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Hart is soul of Seneca Valley soccer team

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Louis Raggiunti | Trib Total Media
Seneca Valley girls soccer player Alicia Hart moved to defense for her senior season and was named captain of the team.

The Seneca Valley girls soccer team repeated as WPIAL champions, and one reason for the Raiders’ success was the play of senior captain Alicia Hart.

She moved to defense this season, a position she had never played before.

“My game grew, I knew I wanted to help the team,” Hart said. “I knew it would come to an end one day, so I wanted to do my best each game.”

Hart switched from center midfield to center defender, and she said the move actually helped her expand her game.

“It just clicked with me,” she said. “On defense, I have more time to distribute the ball, whereas in the midfield, I was under more pressure.”

While Hart thought she could better help the team from her new position, she noted it was made easier because of how she clicked with teammates Jess Neill, Claire Kocur and Paige Montrose.

“We had high hopes for this season and made a good run,” Hart said.

There were several notable moments to the season, and Hart said playing at Highmark Stadium one more time was memorable for her.

She said perhaps the most notable moment was senior night, going through the line of teammates and coaches and saying goodbye and sharing a couple of words with the people who had meant so much to her in the past few years.

“It had an impact, it was memorable and a little sad, but it was a memorable moment,” Hart said.

Hart said coach Dave Sylvester was very influential during their time together.

“He worked me hard and I didn’t even realize it,” Hart said. “He said that if you put your mind to something, you can get it done. He also said that it is better to work as a team than as an individual. He just gave us so many memorable lessons.”

Sylvester noticed Hart stepping up from her sophomore to junior year and said she emerged this season to take over the corner and free kick duties.

“She is a vocal leader and a good kid who will be missed,” Sylvester said. “She always has a smile on her face and just has a good attitude.”

With Hart’s final high school game behind her, she leaves a legacy of excellence, three consecutive trips to the WPIAL finals, and two WPIAL championships.

With Hart and six other seniors ready to move on, they will leave the leadership roles to the junior class, a group Hart said will know how to lead this team into the future.

“They are used to the varsity game, and they know what it takes,” Hart said. “They know how to work as a team, and I hope things will work out next year.”

As the defending WPIAL champions coming into the season, Hart said there was a level of pressure that came with that distinction, something the coaching staff and seniors had to help the team overcome.

“Coach Sylvester reminded us to keep our heads on straight,” Hart said. “We didn’t win states, but I think it was a successful season, and I have a lifetime of memories.”

Hart said she would like to play college soccer or at least play on a club team in college.

Hart was the team captain this season, a position designated by the coaching staff.

“We decide after the preseason and after a couple of scrimmages,” Sylvester said. “It’s not given to someone who is just a good player; the captain is based on other things, too.

“Alicia is positive and has a good way about her. She talks to her teammates and keeps them feeling good.”

Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at at [email protected].

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