Girls Varsity Soccer · Lady Titans Off To Their Best Start In 5 Years

It has been 1,820 days since the last time the Lady Titans soccer team has won three straight AND have had a .500 record. Well that all changed on the night of September 29th, 2020. A year that has been crazy to say the least for these student athletes.

2020 has brought numerous challenges to all athletic teams across the country. These student athletes were not sure if they would have a season. The senior athletes thought that they may have played their last game ever in the blue and gold last Fall. The West Mifflin Lady Titans soccer team has definitely been up to the task.

Over the course of the prior 5 seasons, West Mifflin has only won 13 games. This year they have won 4 already. The girls have improved immensely since the coaching change in the fall of 2018.

“When I look back at why I chose to come to West Mifflin I would say ‘challenge’” new Head Coach Adam Minnaugh said. When the previous staff left, the girls soccer team was left without a coach. Some of the players asked gym teacher Alan Yeschenko to take the job. He declined, but he did become the assistant coach. He was able to find Adam and he took the job.

“I knew this was that opportunity to not only challenge myself, but to challenge the program. Once I met the players I knew this could be done. They are a wonderful group of girls who want to work, who want to get better, who want to battle for one another, and they have the proper mindset.”

Adam Minnaugh is in his third year at the helm of the West Mifflin Lady Titans soccer team. His resume is spectacular. Minnaugh, played for Gannon and Laroche,  was named second team all-conference in 2008. He was also a 2-year college captain and won a conference title and made the NCAA tournament. He has been coaching at Beadling Soccer club since 2008. For Beadling, he was able to lead teams to a PA West State Cup Championship and win. He is currently the head coach of the 2008 Beadling girls’ team.

Since the coaching change the record has changed greatly. Minnaugh is 9-34. The first two years of his regime, West Mifflin was AAA. In the same section as some of the best in the state, schools such as Plum, Oakland Catholic and Thomas Jefferson. In 2019, Plum Lady Mustangs took home the P.I.A.A. championship. This year, they also added a new assistant coach.

After Alan Yeschenko stepped down as the assistant it did not take long to find an assistant coach that would be a great asset to this team. Angelina Baroffio has stepped in and has helped Minnaugh lead the Titans to a 4-4 record. “Adding AJ to the coaching staff has been immeasurable” Minnaugh said when asked what she brings to the team. Minnaugh and Baroffio coach together at Beadling. AJ played college soccer for Duquesne and they won the A10 championship. Minnaugh also states that “In part, creating a successful program is having girls go on to play at the collegiate level and AJ brings a lot of knowledge and experience regarding the recruitment process”.

Going into the preseason West Mifflin knew that with the new section alignments and dropping from AAA to AA that they would have a better schedule. A goal that the team decided on was to be able to be in a playoff race as the season wound down. Now they have won 4 of the last 6 matches. “We got off to a hard start and us coaches were still fighting some things out” said Minnaugh. “Our back line has started to settle, and we are starting to find the back of the net in the attack”.

“When I look ahead to the second part of the season, I think of a great analogy that I heard from Jill Ellis (US Women’s Soccer Coach). She said, ‘mountain tops are small and the air is thin for a reason. You are not supposed to stay up there; it is a rented space. You want to briefly dwell on your success and accomplishments, but to be ready to reach that next summit”, That’s what I think the girls must keep in mind – be happy with what we have achieved so far, but do not be satisfied and get ready to reach that next summit” –  said Adam Minnaugh when asked about the second half of the season goals.

West Mifflin currently sits 4-4 overall after defeating the McKeesport Tigers on a wet and cold Tuesday night at Titan Stadium. It was a hard-fought midfield battle that ended up as a win for the Lady Titans. Senior captain Ruby Rojas gave the Titans the win with only 3 minutes left.  The last time the Lady Titans won three straight was on October 6th, 2015 at Dormont Stadium. They defeated the Golden Eagles by a score of 5-0. The season of 2015 started off like this:

  • L vs Allderdice 3-1
  • L vs South Fayette 3-0
  • W vs East Allegheny 6-1
  • W vs Keystone Oaks 3-0
  • L vs Obama L 2-1
  • L vs South Park 8-0
  • L vs Hopewell 2-0
  • W vs Thomas Jefferson 4-2
  • L vs South Fayette 4-0
  • W vs East Allegheny 2-1
  • W vs Obama 4-0
  • W vs Keystone Oaks 5-0

West Mifflin is a very young team. In the starting lineup you have only 4 seniors, 1 Junior, 5 Sophomores and 1 freshman. There is a total of 6 seniors. This current season, the mentality is better than it has been in past years. Playoff hopes are still alive. They are 1-4 in the conference. The record does not indicate the level of play that the Titans have played at. They lost to South Park in the section opener, they looked well but had a couple of tough breaks. Keystone Oaks was also a tough loss. They put themselves in a tough spot being down at the half 3-0. They almost did make the comeback though. South Allegheny they also played well but it was another game with a few bad breaks. Elizabeth Forward is a game they wish they could get back. The Warriors scored 3 goals from 30+ yards out.  So, the second half of the season should be a good one and be on the watch for these Lady Titans because they will never give up.

Currently, Ruby Rojas has 8 goals and Emily Beck, Allie Van Kirk and Drina Johns all have 2 goals. Rojas, who is a senior captain says the mentality this year is a different one then in years past. “Our mentality is strong but sometimes we allow ourselves to get in our own heads which causes our mentality to drain but we know we have to be true to ourselves and we all work together to keep each other up” says Rojas. Falyn Carr is the Lady Titans starting center defensive mid and Kearney Whalen is the starting center back and shutting people down every night. Guess what? They have not played soccer in many years., They are playing lights out defensively.

“I joined the soccer team, but I was not sure how my basketball season would play out and I wanted a new experience. Many of my friends play soccer and they love it. I have been asked for years to play but I am happy I made the choice. I honestly wish I would have chosen to play sooner and not just my senior year because I love the girls on the team and playing the game. For me to walk on to this team, my senior year with not much experience besides playing when I was younger I knew I had to step up. Having captains like ours has helped me tremendously. They are smart and know the game like the back of their hand and are very helpful. They are true leaders for this team.” – Falyn Carr after being asked how it feels to be playing soccer for her first year and starting.

The playoffs are not out of reach. It will take a lot of work. In a normal season, four teams would make it out of each conference and if there is a tie in the conference in the fourth slot then a play in game would be played. This year, the W.P.I.A.L. has not determined the playoff format yet.

“I believe we are going into our second half of the season with the strongest and most positive mindset. With this I believe we have a great opportunity to make the playoffs this year” Rojas says when asked what the goal for the second half of the season would look like.

The goalkeeper position has been changing recently. To begin the season the job was completely Emily Beck’s. Within the recent mid-way point week, Alysa Collins got the nod and Beck started as a forward scoring two goals.

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