Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — Senior Abby Sindoni dribbled through a trio of Wellsboro defenders and fired a shot into the back of net from 10 yards out for the game’s only goal midway though the second half to lift Athens to a 1-0 win here Monday afternoon at Alumni Stadium, clinching the Lady Wildcats’ eighth consecutive NTL girls soccer title.

The last four league titles have been under coach Rich Pitts.

“I’m happy for the girls. You wonder when it’s going to end, and you hope it never does.

“I’m just along for the ride.,” said Pitts. “They would play pretty great soccer, even if I wasn’t here.

“The senior girls wanted to be part of the group that had won the tile every year they played, so we’re pretty happy to get them that,” added Pitts.

One of those seniors is Sindoni.

“This is really big. I feel like we’ve worked really hard for this as a team — we play for each other.

“To win another NTL title is amazing, but we’re getting ready for the postseason, that’s what means the most to us,” said Sindoni. “We are focused on defending our (District 4) title.”

The Lady Wildcats had several shots go just high or wide throughout the game, despite Wellsboro packing the box with seven or eight defenders, until Sindoni split the Wellsboro defense and hit the game-winner with 21:26 remaining in the contest.

“We noticed they were packing the box a lot, so we tried to pull them out. I saw a little gap, and I just went for it,” said Sindoni.

“I felt like it was a going in,” she added. “We worked hard for it, and I thought this is the one, this is our chance.”

Pitts said the Lady Wildcats have seen teams pack the box all season.

“I don’t like playing Troy, but they’re the only one who played us straight up the whole year,” he said. “Everybody else pretty much packed it in, and didn’t want to get beat by a lot.

“I think that obviously says something about us,” noted Pitts. “We’ve seen it all year. It actually kind of makes us better because it makes us be technical, and puts us under pressure, but it’s a little frustrating sometimes.”

Pitts also took note of his team’s off-the-mark shooting.

“We were a little off on our shooting tonight,” he said. “It could have been a little better, but we were just not on frame.

“We need to fix that in training because in Districts you’re only going to get four or five quality chances and you have to put a couple of them away,” added Pitts.

Athens outshot Wellsboro 29-1 and had a 4-0 edge in corner kicks.

While his defense didn’t see much action, Pitts is pleased with their play at this point in the season.

“I’m pretty happy with my back four, they played really well in Hershey,” he said. “We just have to work a little better with our communications as a back four, but as far as pressuring and covering, and the technical and tactical pieces, our back four is pretty good right now.

“We’ve played some quality players,” Pitts noted. “Hershey had two or three quality strikers that we did a nice job on. (Troy’s Nicole) McClelland didn’t score a goal on us all year, Towanda’s Teagan Willey didn’t get a chance, and the first time we played (Sayre’s Roz) Haney got one shot-on-goal.

“And, Maddy (Joslyn) has been doing great in goal, that’s her 11th shutout this season,” added Pitts. “She doesn’t always get seen by the NTL teams, but she’s an amazing keeper.”

Athens, now 13-2-2, will not play Sayre Friday as originally scheduled, but is seeking another game to prepare for the defense of their District 4, Class AAA title in the upcoming playoffs.

“I’m pretty happy about us for the Districts,” said Pitts. “We’ll see what happens, my first year here I thought we were pretty great, too, and we got beat 4-0.

“I think we’re ready, and I think we’re more well-round than we’ve been,” noted Pitts. “We have five players that have a bunch of goals.

“Last year it (Rachel) Hutchison and Ari (Gambrell) In the finals they were marked out,” added Pitts. “Teams aren’t going to be able to do that this year. We have five girls who can put the ball in the net.”


IN PHOTO 1: Athens senior Abby Sindoni. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.