Trib HSSN athletes of the week: Avonworth’s Owen North, Shady Side Academy’s Krystyna Rytel
Claim to fame: North converted a penalty kick with under seven minutes left in Avonworth’s 2-1 win over Rockwood on Saturday in a PIAA Class A quarterfinal at Peters Township. North, who has scored six goals and has eight assists this season, also scored on a penalty kick against Greensburg Central Catholic in the WPIAL finals.
“He’s a glue player holding down the middle of the field for us,” coach Tom Angell said. “He’s very solid on the ball, and works very hard in the middle. He’s been critical with a lot of tough games we have had.”
Coach Angell has described you as a penalty kick specialist. Describe the mentality you need to have to have success at PKs.
I just try not to think too much about it in general. I know it’s just a high school game, so one kick won’t define the rest of my life. The player has the advantage, not the goalie. So I just try to pick my spot and go with it.
What role do you play for the team?
I’m the type of player who is always thinking to pass first. Usually right from the start of games, we try to advocate possessing my ball. I just try to play the way I face, and I instantly try to find through balls through the ground.
What are your plans after high school?
I’m looking to go to a four-year university to study finance or business. One of my top schools is Villanova.
What has been the most memorable moment of your time playing soccer in high school?
I’ll definitely remember this year and freshman year. I’ll remember how much my teammates have changed over that time period. Getting acclimated to that environment to now where we’re leading the team.
School: Shady Side Academy
Claim to fame: A Pitt recruit, Rytel scored four goals for Shady Side Academy in a PIAA Class A quarterfinals win over Bentworth on Saturday. Rytel also had a goal in a 2-0 win over Greensburg Central Catholic in the third-place consolation game Oct. 30. This season, Rytel has scored 29 goals and has 130 in her high school career.
“Krystyna has contributed so much to our program since her freshman year,” coach Mary Lynch said. “She’s emerged as a vocal leader for our team and really has a tremendous work ethic.
“She comes out every day at practice and sets the tone as an example of hard work and competitiveness, but also as a teammate having good sportsmanship.”
The goals have come in waves this season and throughout your career. What’s your secret?
They came in waves with how the team plays. Obviously, you can’t score a goal as an individual. If my team is playing well, that’s how I can be most successful and get goals.
What would you say is your best attribute on the field?
I would say my ball distribution. I think I do a good job setting people up to be in good scoring position. Also, I think it helps the game flow well for us.
Why did you commit to play soccer at Pitt?
I really like the academics they have to offer. I met with the coaching staff, and I really like what they want to do with the program. That’s the primary reason I decided to commit.
Do you have a major in mind?
I’m really interested in business and pre-med. Hopefully, I can do both of those at the same time.
What are you going to work on to make sure you’re at peak performance at the college level?
I’ll work on speed for sure. I want to get better with my speed of play both on and off the ball.
What will you look back on and remember most about your high school?
I’ll definitely remember my friends. All of my teammates are my best friends. We’re together in soccer and off the field.
Brian Graham is a freelance writer.