Sep. 5—Things started well for first-year Penn-Trafford girls soccer coach Jim Mastroianni's team in 2020.
The season was going well, and then things fell flat.
"Too much drama occurred," Mastroianni said. "That spark and togetherness the team had vanished."
And so did the Warriors' promising season. They went 5-6-2 and lost their final four games including a 7-1 loss to Seneca Valley in the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs.
The once dominant Warriors program had become just another team. Penn-Trafford was WPIAL champion in 2017 (in Class 4A) and 2003 (Class 3A).
The Warriors were scheduled to open this season Sept. 8 at North Allegheny.
Mastroianni said year one was a learning experience as he tries to rebuild the program to prominence.
"It was trial by fire," he said. "Covid-19, nine seniors, change in staff, we installed a new system and program. Things didn't go well."
But Mastroianni said he expects things will be different, or at least he hopes so.
"We have a very young team," he said. "We have to change the culture here. We're trying to rebuild the program."
Earlier in the 2020 season, Penn-Trafford tied rivals Norwin and Latrobe and defeated Hempfield twice. Then things went into a tailspin after a 1-0 loss to Chartiers Valley.
Mastroianni plans to rely on five seniors to get the program back on track.
They are midfielder Malia Kearns, who is committed to Robert Morris, goalkeeper Taylor Lloyd, who is committed to Youngstown State, defender Taylor Jones and midfielders Avery Hofmeister and Ashley Broadwater.
Kearns had eight goals and three assists. She was All-Section first team and All-WPIAL. Lloyd was also All-Section first team. Jones was an honorable mention player.
"We have some talented players," Mastroianni said. "I'd like to find someone who can keep pace with Malia. We had one, but she decided not to play."
He feels the seniors will provide the needed leadership to help the underclassmen.
The backline will consist of sophomores Eilish Connolly and Isabella Swartz, Jones and junior Mia Muro.
Sophomore Emma Stover, freshman Alexis Brown and freshman Chloe Walton will be attackers.
"We're going to play a lot of sophomores," Mastroianni said. "We just don't have a lot of depth or experience."
One positive from the 2020 season: The junior varsity lost one game, splitting with rival Norwin.
Mastroianni said he also lost five good freshmen, four to volleyball and one who gave up the sport after playing Cup soccer.
Penn-Trafford is in Section 6-4A with Norwin, Latrobe, Hempfield, Fox Chapel and Allderdice.
A year ago, the Warriors finished behind Norwin and Fox Chapel.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .