By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
SAYRE — With two players playing soccer and volleyball, but focusing on volleyball, the Sayre girls will have just 11 players for the majority of their games this season, but longtime coach Tracy Mennig still expects to qualify for the postseason.
(Sayre opens the 2019 campaign Tuesday at NEB.)
“We always expect to make the postseason. We’ve only missed the playoffs once in my 10 years here,” said Mennig.
“It’s absolutely a possibility. I’m not going to set the bar low because we have low numbers, and we lost key players,” she noted. “These girls can do it. If they put their mind to it, they can definitely do it.”
“I’m excited for the season. It’s going to be different,” added Mennig. “We will work through it, and it makes me a better coach. It makes me look into different aspects I need to focus on.”
Mennig said the Lady Redskin line-up will vary depending on the availability of senior Emily Sutryk, and junior Gabbi Randall, who who will also play volleyball.
Freshman Adriana Barnhart will play keeper for the Lady Redskins, while juniors Allyssa Murrelle and Sara Ciavardini will be back on defense.
Sutryk will also play defense, with junior Shayla Brennan or sophomore Kyilee Thompson also seeing time there.
Junior Courtney Sindoni will play defensive mid, and senior Abby Moliski will be the offensive mid. Junior Lauren Krall will play outside mid, as will Randall.
Sophomore Rozlyn Haney, and senior Madison Lamanna play the forwards.
Staying healthy is a must for the success of any team, but it is even more imperative for the Lady Redskins, who could have just 11 players for as many as 11 of their 18 regular-season games.
“Staying healthy is a must, more so than ever,” said Mennig. “We’re taking preventive measures now … it’s going to be rough.”
The lack of numbers has had a ripple effect, says Mennig.
“It’s tough, even at practices, to get people where they need to be, and to get them time in that position.”
Mennig believes her team can be successful this season.
“I think there’s a good solid core of returners who move the ball well, work well together, and know where each other is on the field,” she said. “I think that’s going to be beneficial.”
Chief among Sayre’s returners is Haney, who scored 39 goals last season as a freshman.
“With Abby (Moliski) in the midfield, and Courtney (Sindoni) pushing up as well, and sending Roz (Haney), with her speed … we’re going to look for a lot of through-balls, which worked out well last year.
“With a year under her belt, I think Roz is mentally and emotionally a better player this year already,” said Mennig. “Physically, she was there last year, but I think that one year of experience has really made a difference.”
Mennig has concerns entering the season, but the biggest is the ability to play 90 minutes.
“I’d say stamina is my main concern,” she said. “I don’t know if all 11 of our players are going to last 90 minutes, but we will see. We will do the best we can.
“It’s a good group of girls, and they know it’s going to be a tough year,” noted Mennig. “They know we have limited numbers, and that they’re going to have to give 110 percent, and be smart out on the field.”
AROUND THE NTL
“Athens is the team to beat, but Wellsboro and Troy are always tough. Wyalusing is on its way up,” said Mennig. “I think it’s going to be a very competitive league.
“I think it’s going to be tough for us with our numbers, but there are other teams with low numbers, too,” she added.
IN PHOTO: Sayre’s Rozlyn Haney.
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