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NTL GIRLS SOCCER: MENNIG HOPING INFLUX OF YOUTH HELPS LADY REDSKINS BACK TO POSTSEASON (2020-09-14)

By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
SAYRE — Sayre girls soccer coach Tracy Mennig is hoping improved depth, and an influx of talent from the junior high team will lead to a return to the postseason in 2020.

The Lady Redskins struggled to a 1-16 mark in 2019, in large part due to low numbers, compounded by injuries later in the season.

Mennig is hoping the arrival of five freshmen will help get her program back on the right track.

“It’s a good group,” she said. “A lot of them have played a lot of soccer already.

“I’m expecting big things from Caprice (Haney),” noted Mennig. “Unfortunately, Emma (Yohe) is injured, but she’ll be back and she will help us.”

“Meghan Flynn and Kendra Merrill have a lot of speed, we just need to work on their foot skills,” added Mennig. “Liz Shaw could be a powerhouse in the back. We just need to get her some varsity time.”

Of course, at the heart of any Lady Redskin success will be junior Roz Haney, who has 67 goals in her first two varsity season.

“(Roz) is a huge play-maker, and I’m hoping she continues to put a lot of goals in the net,” laughed Mennig. “She’s a special player.”

Roz Haney will anchor the midfield, along with fellow tri-captain senior Courtney Sindoni, and seniors Tahnee Casey-Coolbaugh, and Shayla Brennan.

Freshman Emma Yohe is battling back from injury, and should return in a week or two, and will play in the midfield. Senior Katherine Coles will also see time there.

Sophomore Adrianna Barnhart will start at keeper. Newcomer Dajia Fox will back her up.

Senior Lauren Krall, also a tai-captain, junior Kylie Thompson, and freshmen Elizabeth Shaw, and Meghan Flynn will start on defense. Senior Sara Ciavardini will also see time in the backfield.

Freshmen Caprice Haney and Kendra Merrill will start at forward.

“I think we have more talent around (Roz) this year,” said Mennig. “And, hopefully, we’ll have more than eight on the field,” laughed Mennig in reference to her team playing short-handed several times last season.

“If we could have 11 that would be fantastic, then Roz would be able to find some space.

“And, we have some speed,” added Mennig. “I think we can raise some havoc, and we’ll have someone else who can put the ball in the net aside from Roz.”

Mennig also believe her team’s defense will be improved.

“I think we’re more athletic.

“We have some experience in the back, but with the newcomers we have a little more speed,” said Mennig. “They still have to develop their skills, but I’m more confident this year … we’ll have some depth.”

With her roster already showing some wear-and-tear, Mennig’s biggest concern is a repeat of 2019, in terms of a depleted roster.

“My biggest concern is staying healthy and making sure we have 11 players.

“We had 16 … one is hurt, and one may not be coming back out to play, and then just the day-by-day stuff associated with Covid — it’s crazy,” Mennig said.

“Hopefully, if we can stay healthy and keep 11 on the field, we’ll be all right,” she added.

Mennig believes one of the strengths of her team will be leadership.

“I like our leadership — Courtney (Sindoni), Lauren (Krall) and Roz (Haney) are our captains.

I think they talk really well, and they’re developing that with the younger players,” said Mennig. “They’ve been good role models.”

During her tenure at Sayre, Mennig has consistently guided the Lady Redskins to the postseason. Coming off the worst season of her 12-year career at Sayre, Mennig is looking for a return to the postseason.

“We want a winning season.

“I don’t know about Districts,” said Mennig. “I would love to get to that point because by that time I think our younger players will have peaked and everything will have come together.

“I think if we were to have Districts, we could be dangerous,” she added.

Despite the fact the status of the District 4 playoffs is up in the air, Mennig said she hasn’t had any problems motivating her team.

“I think most of these girls just like being out on the field.

“You saw last year, it was a losing season but our girls gave 110  percent every game, no matter how many we had on the field,” said Mennig.

“I think intrinsically they are motivated,” she added. “If Districts are there, great, but I think our girls will play day by day, and game by game.”

Mennig believes the NTL will be competitive this season.

“Everyone has lost a lot, and I don’t know how any of the other programs have been impacted by the pandemic.

“After last year, I would say everyone we play is going to be tough competition,” laughed Mennig.

“Athens is always the team to beat, and I know Troy is going to be very good,” she added. “I think this year, thought, a lot is up in the air. We’ll see.”

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IN PHOTO: Sayre’s Roz Haney.

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