Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Winchester Thurston’s Mathieu Lebiere, Montour’s Aryana Jones
School: Winchester Thurston
Claim to fame: Lebiere made several key saves, including the title-winning stop in a 1-0 shootout victory over Sewickley Academy in the WPIAL Class A championship game Saturday. The senior recorded 15 shutouts and has only allowed five goals this season, helping Winchester Thurston to an undefeated 19-0-1 season.
“He’s a great leader for us and as a goalkeeper he has to be,” coach Adam Brownold said. “He’s got a great sense of reading the field and the players and does really well anticipating where the ball is going to be. He did that in the shootout on Saturday. He’s just a solid all-around player. He guesses correctly and normally makes the right decision.”
How did it feel to win the WPIAL championship?
Winning the WPIAL championship was a great feat for me so it felt amazing to have finally accomplished a major goal.
Do you have a favorite player or team?
Tim Howard is my favorite player. His story of how he became a major athlete and how well he plays is an inspiration to me and really inspires me to keep making progress.
What is your approach to penalty kicks?
Try and read as much body language as possible. Generally, I look at the takers hips because you shoot where your hips are facing. But most of the time it does come down to luck.
What kind of relationship do you have with your defenders?
My defenders and I are fairly close. I have known most of them for over three years with the exception of Keanu (Davis), but he and I are still pretty close. I think a close relationship is necessary for a defense and goalkeeper to function well together.
What do you enjoy most about playing goalkeeper? What is the most challenging aspect?
What I enjoy and the most challenging thing about being a goalkeeper are one and the same. For me, coming out can be a challenge, especially with timing and making sure I am not in no man’s land. But I enjoy the challenge and working to improve.
Claim to fame: Jones made three saves in Montour’s 3-1 victory over Mars in the WPIAL Class AA championship last week. The senior recorded 12 shutouts, and in a stretch in the regular season held opponents scoreless for eight straight games.
“It’s nice to have her in the net,” coach Lee Coughenour. “Her presence has a calming effect on the rest of the team. She doesn’t let her emotions get the best of her and solidifies us defensively. She is very technically sound and always seems to be in the right positions.”
How did it feel to win the championship?
It was amazing. Most of us didn’t know what it was like to make it past the first round of the playoffs so just making it to the championship was a thrill. Winning it was even better.
What was the biggest challenge for you guys in your run to the championship?
I would say getting over how this was all something new. We had to take some time to get into the swing of things. We got back to playing Montour soccer and took things day by day. The Belle Vernon game was a big challenge and after that we snapped back into playing Montour soccer.
What do you enjoy most about playing goalkeeper?
I just love the thrill of playing. It can be very complicated. Sometimes you don’t see a lot of action and others you see a lot of action that you weren’t expecting. I love being the last defender and then the first phase of an attack.
Do you have any rituals before the game?
I go to LA Fitness and do a spinning class. Then I kind of just hang out at the school. I eat a full meal two hours before the game starts and participate in a full warm-up. I try to prepare myself what I’m about to face.
— Robert Stinner