Susquehannock girls’ soccer rising seniors Ashlynn Weger and Lilly Denis are proud to have won York-Adams Division II in their three previous seasons, but the duo has larger aspirations in mind for their senior year.
“One of our big goals is to get past counties,” Weger said. “The past few years, we just get stuck after the first round of counties and then lose. We really want to push past that.”
With a talented roster that returns five 2018 York-Adams All-Stars, a change in coaching style could be the difference-maker that gets the Warriors past their postseason problems.
Coaching change: The man tasked with unlocking the Warriors' potential is a coach familiar to York County soccer fans. Phomma Phanhthy, formerly the Fairfield girls’ soccer coach, takes over at Susquehannock after he resigned from his previous coaching position after last season.
Phanhthy, who led Fairfield to the 2016 Class 1-A state title, said his role is to make some minor changes to the Warriors team and implement some things he learned during matchups against them in the past.
“I am just going to bring in some of the small things we need to adjust,” Phanhthy said. “Just by watching them and playing against them, if they would’ve adjusted a few things, I think they probably would’ve beaten me a couple times.”
One of the key changes Phanhthy said he wants to implement this season is better spacing on the field. He added that with some changes to their game plan, the skilled attack players, like Weger, will be given more chances to score goals.
“It’s got to start with fundamentals,” Phanhthy said. “These young ladies have skills, we just got to get them to use it.”
Weger and Denis said they could see a noticeable difference in the practice style from previous seasons. Instead of scrimmaging and shooting around, this summer’s offseason workouts were more tactical and focused on passing and controlling the ball.
Denis said it was a little bit of an adjustment learning Phanhthy’s coaching style but was excited about the progress the team made during the summer.
Becoming a team: One of the most important parts of the offseason for the Warriors was building team chemistry. Through a trip to Hersheypark and team sleepovers, the group worked to bond off the field so they can excel as a team on the field.
“We’re a really tight-knit team,” Denis said. “Everything we do, we do together.”
Weger added that having a team full of players who know each other and are on the same page has a direct effect on the team’s ability to win games.
“The more connection we have with each other, the easier it is to connect passes during the game,” Weger said. “We get used to each other and work together better.”
A talented group: In addition to Weger and Denis, who were 2018 Division II first team and second team All-Stars last season, respectively, the Warriors return rising sophomore defender Kaitlyn Krebs, a first team All-Star, as well as second team All-Stars, rising junior goalkeeper Jordyn Prediger and rising sophomore midfielder Olivia Pasko.
With talent returning at all four position groups on the field, Phanhthy wasn’t shy about his expectations for the team and its ability to get over past postseason struggles.
“Overall, we’ve got a talented team,” Phanhthy said. “If they do the things I need them to do, they’re not going to have to worry about (the) county (tournament). We will make it into districts and hopefully make into (the) state (playoffs).”
As for how long it will take before the team would be fully ready to play in his system, Phanhthy promised Susquehannock would be ready game one of the season. From what he saw in offseason workouts, Phanhthy said the Warriors have what it takes to win games.
With a group that has skill all over the field, returns 10 of 11 starters from last year and adds a coach that has won a state title, Weger said the team is excited for the season to begin.
“We’re ready,” Weger said. “We just want to go out and give it everything we have.”
— Reach Rob Rose at email@example.com.