Rebuilding Mustangs starting to make strides
South Western is 8-5 after starting the season 0-3
After a first half in which her team struggled to generate any offense and trailed by two goals, South Western goalie Laura Silver wasn't worried.
Taking on Dallastown on the road Tuesday, the Mustangs trailed 3-1 at halftime and would've been down by a lot more if not for Silver's goaltending. But the goalie remained confident her teammates would pick it up in the second half.
"Honestly, this year we seem to start out slow and usually in the second half we start out pretty strong," Silver said. "If we come out bad in the second half I'm worried, but I was okay."
Sure enough, the Mustangs got their offense going in the second half and eventually beat the Wildcats, 8-6. Mollie Farace led South Western with three goals while Silver chipped in on the other end with 13 saves.
The Mustangs season has followed a similar pattern to Tuesday's game. After starting off 0-3, the Mustangs have won eight of their past 10 games and are now 8-5. While it'll be tough for them to compete with schools like York Catholic, Kennard-Dale, Susquehannock and Red Lion for a spot in the YAIAA playoffs, the Mustangs have a good chance to finish with a winning record.
South Western head coach Randy Kavanaugh will be pleased if the Mustangs can accomplish that feat. After going 11-6 last season, South Western is rebuilding with seven underclassmen in the varsity lineup, according to Kavanaugh.
"We're young," Kavanaugh said. "We have 24 girls in the entire program and between freshmen and sophomores we have about 17 players. So we're sort of rebuilding but we're good for the future."
The combination of youth and a difficult early season schedule was mainly why South Western started out 0-3. With their first three games against extremely talented teams in Hempfield, New Oxford and Susquehannock, the Mustangs struggled as their inexperienced players adjusted to playing varsity.
But as its schedule got more manageable and its underclassmen began to make the strides, South Western started to win. Kavanaugh said the team's offense has made serious improvements this season although it is still a work in progress.
"They're getting used to playing varsity," he said. "Last year a lot of those girls were freshmen and didn't get varsity time but they're starting to grow. Our younger girls are handling the ball better."
On the other end of the field, Kavanaugh hasn't had much to worry about. A four-year starter, Silver has been the team's anchor and currently leads the YAIAA in save percentage.
Now a senior, Silver admitted that leading the team's younger players was tough at first since she plays such a different position than them. Still, she said she's enjoyed this season because she's taken on a much bigger role.
"It's definitely hard because I can't relate to (the other players) on a lot of things but its easy to be a leader because they all look up to me," Silver said. "This year has been different but I like it better because I have more to do and it gets me more ready."
Silver is one of just thee seniors the Mustangs will be losing after this season. But while Kavanaugh believes the team is set up for the future, he said it will be difficult to see his goalie leave. Laura's sister Becca was the team's starting goalie the four years before she entered high school, meaning next season will be the first time in eight years South Western won't have a Silver in goal.
While finding a goalie will be another adjustment, Kavanaugh said the team is getting prepared for the future.
"We've been fortunate with goalies for eight years but there are no more Silvers left," Kavanaugh said. "Next year we have a lot of girls coming in. I think we'll have a couple good years."