Elizabethtown Girls Soccer Media Day: Winning, Success … Fun

By Daryl Simione

Katie AndertonKatie Anderton

New experiences often come with some level of trepidation or uncertainty. And certainly, the 2017 preseason has been full of some unusual experiences for the Elizabethtown girls’ soccer team.


Like paintball and whitewater rafting.


Or the inaugural four-on-four “dog-bowl” tournament.


The second time was the charm, meanwhile, for a revamped fitness testing program commencing with the YBMI “You Better Make It” test. (Don’t worry, everyone did.)


Lastly, there was a little thing called Media Day: an event so unheard of around the Lancaster-Lebanon League, save for football and wrestling, that some of the Etown players had to question what it was.

 

“All week long, the girls have been asking me, ‘What’s media day? Why are we doing media day?’” said fourth-year head coach Keith Renner. “What media day is, in my mind, is our time to recognize the team and the girls and have them get some press for all the positive work (they’re) putting into the sport.”


Indeed, Renner and his staff hosted Etown’s first-ever girls’ soccer media day on Wednesday, Aug. 23, using the opportunity to detail the progress the program has made over the past several seasons and to introduce the 2017 varsity squad.


And although this season will be a new experience for some — in particular, the six freshmen joining the ranks of a varsity squad with just five returning members — the Bears are expected to maintain their status among the Section Two elite this season.


The Bears went undefeated in the regular season a year ago on the heels of their L-L League title in 2015, and finished with a 22-2 record overall.


But eight seniors graduated from last season’s squad, including All-State performer Talia Grynkewicz, who tallied a program-record 90 goals over four seasons with Etown and now plays for Millersville University.


Other players joining the college ranks after last season include stellar outside-mid Jamie Marsico (Bloomsburg), speedy forward Lauryn Six (PSU-Harrisburg), even-handed holding-mid Hannah Keener (IUP), and stalwart four-year defenders Megan Stoltzfus (Houghton) and Elise Forry (Slippery Rock).


Defenders Kendra Herr and Sydney Depoto, three-time letter-winners themselves, have likewise moved on.


Kimmy BucherKimmy BucherNow for some good news.


Back donning the blue and white (and goalkeeper red) is four-year netminder Carlee Reed, who after splitting time as a freshman has been a consistent asset and dependable leader for the Bears ever since.


“Obviously since we lost eight of our seniors from last year we kind of lost that chemistry,” said Reed, who will take her talents to Bloomsburg next year. “But the girls this year are definitely easy to work with so our chemistry should come quickly.”


Helping matters is the return of four-year starting defender Katie Anderton, who learned from and contributed toward the Bears’ shut-down back-line the past three seasons and will look to continue that success in front of Reed.


“When I was a freshman, I was very quiet because I was so nervous,” Anderton recalled. “But I quickly learned that if you don’t talk to each other and get back for each other then you’re not that ‘brick wall’ that you have to be.”


Anderton is one of three captains for the Bears alongside fellow senior and three-year starter Kaeleigh Smedley, a top-notch facilitator and communicator at center-mid, and Sophia Berry, one of those six varsity freshmen.


“We’ve been playing (varsity) since we were freshmen, so Katie and I being captains is going to help this team,” said Smedley, who like Anderton is looking to play in college but has not yet decided on a school. “I definitely communicate a lot on the field and I think the girls appreciate that.”


Renner says Berry has primarily been a scorer throughout her junior high career but will join Anderton on the back-line this season.


Sophomores Kristen McEvoy and Alicia Underkoffler as well as freshman Carly Sedun will also contribute on defense, with freshman Kaitlyn Snyder backing-up Reed in goal.


Joining Smedley in the midfield are freshmen Olivia Anson and Mykah Macfarlane, sophomores Amber Bostdorf, Jasmine Garcia, and Olivia Shuck and the lone junior on the varsity squad, Haley Sedun.


Unfortunately for the Bears, Shuck, who played big minutes in 2016 as both a midfielder and forward, is coming off knee surgery and has not yet been cleared to play.


Top-flight forwards Marena Lonardi and Sierra Reed are also coming off injuries suffered in 2016 and have opted not to suit-up this season. Lonardi is prepping for winter basketball, while Reed is continuing her soccer career at the academy  Carlee Reed Carlee Reedlevel.


That leaves senior midfielder/forward Kimmy Bucher as the primary catalyst for Elizabethtown’s offense.


Fortunately, Bucher is a lot like Marsico when it comes to controlling possession along the sideline. (Like goalkeeper Reed, Bucher has committed to play alongside Marsico at Bloomsburg next season.)


“We have a really good understanding of each other’s strengths,” Bucher said of the chemistry with the new players. “We have a lot of speed … so through-balls will be prevalent. One of the main things I do is cross the ball up top, so as long as we can finish it, we’ll be good.”


Some of those looking to capitalize will be forwards Rachel Wood, a senior, Kaelynn Sheetz, a sophomore, and Macy Seaman, a freshman.


In time, the Bears may elevate a player or two from the 15-member junior varsity squad, as well.


“(There are) definitely a lot of girls that are new to this that I feel responsible for, just to show them what varsity is like, how to deal with the pressure, deal with the stress,” Anderton began. “Also, to remind them that we care about winning, we care about success… but it’s also fun. And we’re here to have fun.”


Of that, the players, the coaches — and yes, even the media — can be certain.


Elizabethtown, which hosts Lower Dauphin in a final scrimmage on Wednesday, Aug. 30, will open its season on Friday, Sep. 1 at 4 p.m. at Dallastown.


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