HAWLEY — Wallenpaupack Area's girls soccer program has steadily climbed the charts in recent years and now occupies a spot among the Lackawanna League elite.
This year's edition of the Lady Bucks varsity squad is currently undefeated (6-0-0) and all alone atop the Division II standings. In addition, Paupack's junior high girls team is also turning heads.
Under the watchful eyes of co-coaches M'Liss Bonagura and Katie Schkolenko, the young Lady Bucks are evolving into a bona fide force on the local pitch.
"We have a really solid bunch of girls this year," Coach Bonagura said.
"There's a nice core group of 8th graders and some talented 7th graders, too. The best thing about these girls is that they're further along in their development, so we can spend more time coaching and less time teaching."
Just this past week, Paupack traveled to archrival Honesdale and went toe-to-toe with the Hornets from start to finish. Despite their best efforts, however, the Lady Bucks came out on the short end of a 1-0 final.
"I'm very pleased with the effort, but not so happy about the outcome," Coach Bonagura said. "We had plenty of chances, but we just didn't put the ball in the net. We really have to improve at finishing things off."
Sweeper Angelica Ragusa and stopper Sheila Whitman anchor Paupack's defense.
Both are 8th graders and each plays a vital role in the Lady Bucks' suffocating back line.
"They're both dynamite players," Coach Bonagura said. "They complement each other really well. Angelica and Sheila each have a very good sense of the game. They're aggressive, too. They go right out and challenge people."
Shannon Vennie and Maddy Chichinski form a potent 1-2 scoring punch for Paupack. These two 8th grade strikers put constant pressure on the opposition net.
"Shannon's a little scrapper," said Coach Bonagura. "She fights for every loose ball. She's quick, too. Once Shannon gets the ball, she's gone.
"And Maddy give you 100 percent all the time. She puts everything she has into every shot. No one practice wants to go anywhere near her shots...they're just rockets."
The Lady Bucks are solid in the midfield as well. Another pair of 8th graders (Brianna Denniston and Olivia Broadhead) control the ball and ignite the offensive attack.
"Those two girls are really solid and dependable," Coach Bonagura said. "They're both getting good at playing the ball out wide and feeding it to the wings, which is what we want them to do."
Over & Out
As The News Eagle went to press on Monday, Paupack's junior high girls soccer team had a 2-2-0 record.
Page 2 of 2 - The Lady Bucks own wins over Ding-Del (5-0) and Delaware Valley (3-0). Vennie, Chichinsky and 7th grader Olivia Gregory all tallied goals.
Holli Saar and Taylor Bradley share keeping duties. Saar is an 8th grader and Bradley is coming on strong as a 7th grader.
"They're pretty tough girls," Coach Bonagura said. "Holli and Taylor are willing to come out and mix it up when they have to. They're also very coachable and that's huge."