Wallenpaupack Area multi-sport standout honored after stellar soccer season

For each of the past three years, Wallenpaupack Area’s girls soccer program has had one of its players named to the Pennsylvania State Soccer Coaches Association’s All-State Team.

First, it was Molly Jansco, a defender, during her junior year in 2014.

Skylar Wirth, a striker, followed in her senior season the next fall.

Last autumn, another defender, Sheila Whitman, as a senior, joined their ranks.

This year, the Lady Bucks saw a junior attacker advanced to that lofty level.

Just the Stats, Ma’am

Rachael Tirjan exploded onto the Lackawanna Soccer League scene in 2015 and has been shaking things up ever since.

As a middle schooler, she earned a reputation for hard charging play and was already a factor in many opposing teams’ defensive plans before she even set foot onto the high school pitch.

During her freshman season, she racked up 24 goals and landed seven assists. That was good enough to garner her an appointment to the league’s second team All-Stars.

She found the net 26 times as a sophomore and padded her points with a half-dozen assists. For her efforts, she was named to the league’s first team All-Stars.

This past fall she continued to exceed her previous numbers.

Junior year saw her mark 28 goals and 11 assists for a seasonal total of 67 points, averaging 3.8 goals per game and earn yet another first team All-Star spot.

Her figures for this past year put her in 15th place in points among Pennsylvania players and 16th in scoring.

All told, with just three seasons under her belt, Tirjan notched 78 goals on 109 shots for an average of 1.4 goals per match.

“I’m excited to be named to the All-State team,” Rachael said. “But, it’s not something I expected.”

The school record for goals is 104. Breaking 100, a remarkable achievement for any player, is tangible if she stays on track her senior season. Setting a new high mark for Paupack is also plausible, but both milestones are things Tirjan doesn’t focus on.

“Rachael will do anything to help the team,” said Lady Buck Coach Alicia Sodano. “She’s humble and puts others ahead of herself.

“I have to tell her that she needs to be selfish sometimes and take the initiative with the ball when we need her to, but she always steps up. Our defense was down a little this year and so our offense picked up the pace.

“Next year, I might need her to make a move to mid-field, and I know she’ll do it.”

Other Aspects

The pitch isn’t the only place Tirjan excels.

Once soccer season ends, she takes to the basketball court and when that’s over, it’s off to the softball diamond.

On the hardwood, Rachael is solid outside shooter.

As a freshman she tallied 82 points, seven of her 30 field goals cane from downtown and she went 15-for-22 at the line.

Sophomore year saw her hit 21 of her 42 goals from beyond the arc and she notched 26-of-37 from the stripe for a total of 131.

Among the division leaders in points, Tirjan earned an honorable mention when it came to the All-Star awards.

All-State status is nothing new to the Paupack junior.

This past spring, Tirjan was named to the All-State team for softball. The Lady Buck pitcher batted .429 as a freshman with 24 hits, two of which were doubles as well as one triple.

She knocked in four runs and scored 22 times.

As a sophomore, she improved to .579 with 33 hits, three doubles and a triple. She crossed the plate on two dozen occasions and swung to bring in eight runs.

Tirjan made First Team both years.

“I put a lot of time into sports because it helps keep me balanced with school and activities,” she said.

Rachael’s played on several travel softball teams and spends a lot of time with her travel soccer team, the Back Mountain Fury.

When she’s not doing something sports related, Tirjan serves as her class secretary. She is a member of the National Honor Society, where she’s attained Gold Scholar status, qualified for the state competition with Future Business Leaders of America, SADD, the Student Ambassadors, and the Athletic Council.

“Rachael is very driven,” Sodano said.

“She’s the first one to show up at practice and she shows up in the off-season for soccer when she’s not with her travel team.”

Up Ahead

With soccer season behind her, Rachael’s already going at it on the basketball court.

When that’s done, it’ll be on to softball.

“We’re hoping for a good season with basketball,” Tirjan said in closing.

We’re getting used to a new coach but we have a lot of returning starters. Softball should be good too. I’m looking forward to playing with the seniors. We’ve all played together a long time.

“Then it’ll be time for soccer again and I’m hoping for a good year with my classmates Mackenzie Turner, Madison Nakielny, and Jamie Falgie.

“We’ve played together since youth soccer and are looking for a fun season.”