2014 SEASON: Welcome


Sunday, September 21

Ashley Mulherin has been a force on the flank this year (Photo: E. Black)

The Lady Comets will return to CSE Field tommorow (Monday) where they will host Delaware Valley in a 4:15 league crossover game. For most of the 2014 season, Delaware Valley (3-3) has looked solid but not especially threatening, suffering losses to North Pocono and to the 1-3-1 Honesdale Hornets. The Warriors have collected wins over Western Wayne and West Scranton, but so has virtually everyone else.

The one eye-catching entry on this year's Delaware Valley resume is a win over defending District 2 champion Wallenpaupack; the Warriors were able to beat the Lady Buckhorns 1-0 earlier this year over in Milford. 

In last year's game, the Lady Comets posted a paper thin 1-0 victory of Delaware Valley.  The game was not quite as close on the field as it was on the scoreoard; Abington, for example, outshot Del Val 19-7, and Lady Comet goalkeeper Blair Cacciamani had to deal with only three shots-on-goal. All in all, the Lady Comets should again be favorites against Delaware Valley this year.

The weather forecast for kickoff: warm and dry. Come out and support the Lady Comets.

Tuesday, September 16

Carina Salerno moves ball along the flank (Photo: E.Black)

About five years ago, Western Wayne was putting some potent soccer teams on the pitch and playing competitve games against all comers. Although they are still an effective team when pitted against mid-level soccer squads, the Wildcats have dropped off considerably in their recent performances against the league's higher echelon. This decline continued yesterday when the girls from Varden visited Clarks Summit and limped away on the vacant end of a 7-0 score.

If one adds to the seven-goal Abington output the fact that Western Wayne's Catherine Tuman came up with 15 diligent saves in this match, one gets an idea of how much gunfire hit the shed.  At times, the bombardment was unbearable. The Lady Comets were not only corking copious shots but were graciously sharing the launching pad. Six different players scored for Abington, with two of these six players recording their first career goals. Some of the largest Abington shot totals were registered by girls who came off the bench. All in all, a gaudy total of 25 stalwarts appeared for the blue and white; and, given the list of the Lady Comets' injured personnel, this group of twenty-five basically included every able-bodied woman in game-day attire.

Defensively, the Abington back line stymied whatever attack Western Wayne tried to develop. The fullback corps--which over the course of the day was composed variously of Jasmin Patel, Emily Bonsick, Abby Brown, Adrianna Green, and Mariah Hawley--frustrated the few attackers who stumbled through the dense Abington midfield. For the most part, there was simply no space for the Wildcats to set up shop. There was little for goalkeepers Johanna Show and Trish Caucci to do, mostly because Abington's controlled possession approach would not relinquish the ball. Indeed, the Lady Comets used some tantalizing one-touch passing to wind their way through a somewhat harried Western Wayne defense.

The first tally of the game occured just 3 minutes and 42 seconds after the kickoff, when a ready-to-run Ally Christman crushed home an unassisted goal following a majestic dribble drive. Before another ten minutes had passed, the team was huddled in communion again, this time celebrating the first career goal for freshman Emily Clauss who, utilizing a sweet assist from junior Emma Henzes, punched in a gem of a shot. From this point on, the only speculation circulating in the stands concerned how soon everyone would be home for dinner, because even at this early juncture there was no more doubt about who was going to win this game.

The Lady Comets went on to score five more goals, while the opposition barely threatened the Abington penalty area. Before the first half ended, senior Michaelina Holmes would get hold of a loose ball in the box and lace it into the net, giving the Lady Comets a 3-0 halftime lead. The two sides settled in for halftime discussions with decidedly different demeanors.

The festivities only turned darker for the Wildcats in the second period. Just three minutes into the final stanza, Christman would--like she did in the first half--open the scoring again, this time putting the ball in off of a fine cross from Tiana Yarns. Next on the agenda was a sparkling goal from freshman Hannah Kowalski, who allowed Christman to take a turn as the provider; the goal was the second of Kowalski's young yet already promising career.

At the 51:46 mark, Emma Henzes would extend the Abington lead when she pierced the back netting with a solidly struck and precisely placed free kick from the top of the box. Shortly thereafter, sophomore Nicole Getz would cap the scoring, when she jumped on a ball in the box and sent it past the keeper. It was Getz first varsity tally, and it would serve as the closing act of this one-sided goal fest.

In many ways, one could see this punishing result coming. One could see that the home-standing girls were smarting from their tough loss last Thursday to Scranton Prep. The Lady Comets rarely lose. So, woe unto any team that faces them in the first game following an Abington loss. Indeed, the Wildcats suffered yesterday the same fate that Scranton did in a game played immediately after the Lady Comets lost to Dallas; in that contest, the Knights tried in vain to hang close with a fired-up Lady Comets' side that was looking to make a statement and was aiming to reclaim any dignity that the soccer pundits might have tried to strip from them after the loss to the Mountaineers. With yesterday's victory, the Lady Comets have reminded the world that they are a very good soccer team, a team that plays in the inspiring shadows of its past and strives to reach the high standards established by the long line of former players who always kept excellence alive; in other words, the Lady Comets' program is infused with unimpeachable tradition--it is indeed a program worthy of a prominent ranking near the top of any list of the ten best girls soccer programs in NEPA.

NEXT UP: The schedule-makers send the Lady Comets out to Hawley this Wednesday for a 4:15 clash with Wallenpaupack, a program I placed in the number nine spot in my recently published list of the top ten NEPA girls soccer programs. The last time these two sides met was in last year's District Championship game, a match in which the Lady Buckhorns logged a 1-0 victory over Abington; it was a win that might have been considered a mild upset, even though Wallenpaupack was an extraordinarily polished team last year--the game marked the first time Wallenpaupack had beaten the Lady Comets; so there might be a revenge factor in Wednesday's game; in other words, it might well be worth the trip out to the lake. The Lady Buckhorns have a solid team again this year; however, after graduating a boatload of players last spring, they will not be fielding this season a team of the same calibre as last year's side.  Paupack does return its talented head coach Alicia Sodano, who will have her players ready for the game. The Lady Buckhorns lost 4-2 to Prep yesterday; so, as a side note, one can say that Wallenpaupack scored more goals against the Classics than the Lady Comets did..

WHERE DO THE ANTIQUATED ARTICLES GO?  For those who have asked, the old articles and game stories posted on this site are sent to the netherworld after they have served their purpose.  I have been able to archive many of the articles, and I will soon post under the NEWS page as many of these older pieces as I can.  So look for older posts there.  Due to the editing process I use, the NEWS icon might not always appear on the homepage menu --but if this icon is taken down temporarily, have faith that it will reappear. 

NOTES:  .  .  . special thanks to assistant statistician Will Misiura, who among other things, manages the substitution traffic during our games; he did a grown man's job yesterday handling with aplomb the huge quantity and frequency of subs in the Western Wayne contest .  .  . after opening up with tough games against Prep and the Lady Comets,  the Cougars of Valley View showed yesterday why they are a top program, expressing themselves with a 8-1 rout of Honesdale. 


Sunday, September 14

These rankings are very much as of now. The top teams in NEPA can certainly change, and have changed over time; but for the moment, here are the teams that, in this writer's eyes, seem to warrant a place on the list:


1.  DALLAS - Although they occasionally lose, especially to some of the other teams on this list, no one has established a more consistent record of excellence over the last several years than the Dallas Mountaineers; these ladies, indeed, have a golden resume. With a State Championship in 2007, along with many other state tournament runs, and with District AA Championships and WVC league titles, the Mountaineers are the NEPA monarchy; they produce quality players year in and year out, partly because the school is fed by an effective local club system  Once again this year, the Mountaineers are ranked in the top ten teams in the state small school classification and certainly have a shot at picking up another state title this season.

2.  SCRANTON PREP - Let us begin by acknowledging that the Classics beat Dallas in the district championship game last year; let us note that they beat almost always everyone else as well; over the last three seasons especially, they have become the Mona Lisas of the Lackawanna League and a team that has advanced deep into the state AA tournament. They are well-known and generally feared--and although they have a productive offensive unit, they are even better on defense; the bottom line is that Prep puts vigorous soccer stars on the field; and those athletes generally play with pride and passion--and many of these athletes have recently shown that they can also play very well when on televison.

3.  BERWICK - This team comes to flat out play! They have registered seasons, not so many years ago, where they seemed to be unbeatable; plus, this school (like some others mentioned here) has a legitimate "soccer tradition" - -  many very, very good teams hold Berwick in high regard; Dallas, for example, has been put the test by the Bulldogs, and Abington struggled mightily against them for several years between 2007 and 2010--back when the Lady Comets were WVC members; Berwick is currently again a state-ranked team -- the Bulldogs posted a 17-1 record in 2012 and are poised to make noise again this season, although Dallas and Coughlin may get in their way this year, I personally would never get in the way of a bulldog.  

4.  ABINGTON HEIGHTS -  Winner of five straight district championships, before losing in last year's final, the Lady Comets are at one with the words "soccer icons." In games when teams of lesser accomplishment play Abington, one can hear the opposing coach say things like: "watch girls how this team moves the ball" or "I scheduled this game so we could learn from one of he better teams around here."  Despite its incredible run of district championships, Abington has not been able to make inroads in the state tournament--and that is one shining jewel that the program would like to add to its already sparkiling crown.

5.  COUGHLIN - In both boys and girls soccer, this is a "big name" program; winning is completely commonplace here--and the girls' program has certainly done a lot of that winning. Coughlin finished last season with a 12-2-1 mark, and that is the kind of record that this program has posted before; ask Dallas, for example, how good this team can be; Coughlin knows its teams can play with the best in the region; while this program has absolutely punched the stuffing out of many high school teams, it has sometimes struggled against the four teams that I am rating above it.

6.  VALLEY VIEW - This is another program that simply knows how to win--the Cougars know what is like to win league championships, district titles, and to play in the state tournament; the teams that Valley View breeds are invariably aggressive, determined, and well-schooled in soccer fundamentals; they play with confidence and poise and are capable of beating anyone at anytime --home or away-- the Cougars are a perennial contender for league and district honors; in summation, Valley View is an elite program that simply expects to have a winning season every year, and they DO!  

7.  HOLY REDEEMER - This is another special program that is not always exceptional but is consistently good and quite often VERY good. You could make a case for ranking this team a bit higher on this list because they have logged some impressive wins over the years, including wins over teams from programs I have ranked above them. Last year's 10-3-2 record along with a successful start in this the 2014 season demonstrate that Holy Redeemer remains a force to be reckoned with--a dangerous attacking side! A team much like Valley View, they are ranked below the Cougars partly because they recently lost in the district playoffs to the Cougars. But they are a quality program and deserve a prominent place on this list!.

8.  LAKE LEHMAN - Maybe we are not talking about a household name here--especially for people not familiar with the WVC--but some excellent players have emerged from this program; the point here is that this school just hangs around and hangs tough and has recorded some impressive wins over the last few years; a pesky team, they have made life miserable for a lot of quality sides both in regular and post-season play; Lake Lehman finished last year with an impressive 11-4-0 record against a difficult schedule and is again sitting near the top of the WVC stairs this season; these girls gave Dallas a good game in the 2012 District semi-finals before losing 2-1.There is some serious soccer commitment here.

9.  WALLENPAUPACK - This team's performance over the last two years--which includes wins over Abington Heights and Scranton Prep, along with two league titles and a AAA District Championship--suggests that this program should be ranked higher on this list, especially since the girls from Hawley are off to a good start again this year, sitting tied atop their division with a 3-1 record; but if we are considering the body of work over the last six years, we must note that the Wallenpaupack side has seen some hard times prior to their recent success; but if this program continues in the direction it is going, the Lady Buckhorns would definitely make a case for moving up this scale. 

10. WYOMING VALLEY WEST - Although maybe not quite as strong as the programs listed above--and despite the fact that this school is quite often among the "also rans" in tournament play--Wyoming Valley West has been able to keep itself "in the mix" for league and district honors for several years; and even though it has not broken through in a huge way, the program has posted strong winning records on a regular basis, including last's year's 10-5-1 record. The fact that WVW, unlike a lot of other teams, has kept itself rather consistently in the "race," earns it the final spot of recognition on this list. 

HONORABLE MENTION:  Pittston Area - a team that one might not think about a few years ago, the Patriots have come on so strong in recent seasons, that they should be recognized here.

If you are a fan of one of the 40-plus regional teams that did not make this list, please do not write me--instead, make your own list. 


    2014 LADY COMETS