A year ago, the Bethel Park girls soccer team didn’t have to think to much to generate offense.
Passing the ball to A.J. Baroffio was usually a pretty solid plan, as the forward scored 35 goals, added 13 assists and six times recorded hat tricks.
But now that Baroffio’s at Duquesne University, Bethel Park has a little different look this season.
Still an excellent team, mind you, but the Black Hawks (10-1-1, 6-0-1 in Section 4-AAA) are spreading the wealth.
Senior midfielder Tatiana Ruzzini leads Bethel Park with 16 goals and five assists. Junior midfielder Halle Hamer has 13 goals and nine assists, and senior midfielder Sarah Buczkowski has added three and three.
“Last year we relied on A.J. a lot. Get the ball to A.J., she’ll make things happen, and usually we end up winning; we went 20-3,” Bethel Park coach Jon Gentile said. “Last year we emphasized playing as a team, but we had that outlet. This year we don’t have that outlet.”
No, but Bethel Park does have Ruzzini, a speedy striker, and a stingy defense that has pitched a shutout in all but one contest. Also credit goalkeeper Laura Page, who has stopped 24 of 28 shots.
“We play very sound defensively, and (Ruzzini) gets a lot of chances up top. She may get six to 10 chances in a game, and her speed … she just outmatches defenses because she’s so quick,” Gentile said. “This year she really has gotten stronger on the ball. Because of that it’s giving her the opportunity to turn and take defenders one-on-one and go to goal; most of her goals come off breakaways because of that.”
Senior defender Lindsay Boss (Edinboro) anchors the back line. She’s helped by Rachel Gaddis, Alexis Machi and Jess Horgan. All are seniors.
Bethel Park, which lost to Seneca Valley in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals a season ago, owns wins over Peters Township and Mt. Lebanon.
That Peters Township win has loomed large, as it vaulted Bethel Park into the top spot of the Tribune-Review Class AAA rankings.