Shared from the 9/1/2020 Mon Valley Independent eEdition

Thomas Jefferson girls hope to contend again in Section 3-3A

The Jaguars enter the fall campaign having advanced to the playoffs in each of the last six seasons.


Mike Darnay / MVI Sports Senior Ava Lutz (left) will lead the Thomas Jefferson girls soccer team’s midfield this season, while sophomore Emma Martinis will be one of the Jaguars’ top offensive threats at the forward position.


Given the program’s success in past years as well as the talent on his roster, new Thomas Jefferson girls soccer coach Sean Richter believes his team can once again be a playoff contender this fall.

Richter, who served as an assistant coach under Jason Vozar last season, has inherited a program with a history of playing late into the month of October. The Jaguars have advanced to the WPIAL playoffs in each of the last six seasons.

“There are big shoes to fill,” Richter said. “The program has gone uphill and set new standards and a new bar for the players.”

While he’s optimistic in his group’s chances to compete, Richter knows his first season guiding the Jaguars will be a process considering the amount of youth he has to work with.

A year after the team went 12-7-1 overall and 8-4 in section play en route to a WPIAL quarterfinal appearance, TJ has just three seniors to rely on. Of the 31 players on the team’s roster, seven are juniors, seven are sophomores and a whopping 14 are freshmen.

“We only have three seniors and there is a lot of young talent, but it’s high school soccer; it’s different with the physical part and the size,” Richter said. “In part, there is an expectation where I think we can step in and compete right away, but with that being said, it is a process feeling out the personnel and seeing where everyone fits.”

Richter was hired to take over the girls program in late January and said the girls have bought in to his coaching style thus far.

“I definitely have my style and my way of play, and we have been incorporating that since day one,” Richter said. “I think they see a clear difference in play as well as how we want to move the ball and how we want to build up.”

This season, three of TJ’s sophomores will start as forwards and look to replace the production of Dalaney Ranallo, a 2020 graduate who led the team with 21 goals last season.

Emma Martinis, Olivia Supp and Abby Attkinson will help lead the way offensively for TJ.

“All three are very solid and smart players,” Richter said. “We don’t have that presence of a 6-1 senior in Dalaney Ranallo, so we have to change our style of play. We have to adapt and move the ball faster. The goal for us is to just get more players to impact the game.”

In the midfield, Richter will rely on a pair of his senior leaders – Emily Kane and Ava Lutz – as well as a junior in Hailey Krawczyk.

“They have really good chemistry and their work rate is really high,” Richter said. “They’re leaders and they’re working well with the younger girls.”

On defense, juniors Elana Kondos and Bella Blosl will lead the way. They will be joined by a pair of underclassmen in sophomore Jordan Sinclair and freshman Abby Ngugi. “We want to be a little bit better out of the back,” Richter said. “We have the talent to do it and they all support each other well. We have speed, we have size and we have the technical ability. It’s a well-rounded back four.”

Madison Sippey, another one of Richter’s senior stars, returns as the Jaguars’ starting goalkeeper. Freshman Cordie Wemyss is listed as TJ’s backup keeper.

“For Sippey, she is coming into her own as a senior. She’s way more confident, she’s talking and she has a presence, which is huge for her,” Richter said. “Sippey’s play speaks for itself. She’s been solid and she’s doing the right things.”

Thomas Jefferson will be joined in Section 3 by the likes of Oakland Catholic, Obama Academy, Plum, Woodland Hills and newcomers Brashear and Penn Hills.

Richter knows the defending co-champions in Plum and Oakland Catholic will be the section favorites entering the season.

But if the Jaguars continue to improve as the year goes on, they surely shouldn’t be counted out.

“Going into it, the expectation is to always be competitive and make a run in the section,” Richter said. “I think we’ll be competitive no matter what, but the big goal is to just get better and faster, and stay committed to what we want to do and the style we want to play.”

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