By Rich Rhoades
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Moniteau Lady Warriors’ run isn’t over. There’s just an offseason workout to get through before going back to work next spring.
That was the mood after Moniteau’s 9-3 loss to Holy Redeemer in Thursday’s PIAA Class AA Championship game at Penn State University’s Beard Field.
With just two seniors, both of them regulars in Courtney Sowinski and Alyssa Dailey, graduating out of the program, the Lady Warriors can certainly expect to go into next year as heavy favorites in District 9 and perhaps statewide in the new six-class setup next year.
At the district level, Moniteau is part of a new eight-team Class AA field that also includes Brookville, Johnsonburg, Kane, Cranberry, Redbank Valley, Curwensville and Keystone. Glancing at this year’s 16-team Class AA state playoff bracket, only two other teams — first-round losers Philadelphia Academy Charter and Conwell Egan out of District 12 — return. Thirteen teams bump up to Class AAA next year.
Nine of the 16 Class A state teams will be moving up to Class AA, but none of them reached the semifinals. Four teams — D6 champion Conemaugh Valley, D10 champion Saegertown, D6 runner-up Southern Huntingdon and D1 champion Bristol — won first-round games before being eliminated.
Those two factors — a returning loaded roster and the classification shift — certainly put Moniteau on the short list of teams with a serious charge to come back to Happy Valley.
“Every team we played in the playoffs this year with the new realignment — Everett, South Park, Ellwood City, these guys today, Philipsburg-Osceola who beat us this year — all of them are Class AAA next year,” said Moniteau head coach Dan Beebe. “I’m not saying that the path is going to get easier, but a lot of the stronger teams we played this year are moving up and we’re going to still be at Class AA with a good team coming back so the chances of us coming back and representing the West in Class AA, I’d say we’re the favorite. We just have to keep training hard and executing in the offseason. I know we will.”
And with a ton of talent back, Beebe knows he has the ammunition and right attitude to make another strong run to try reverse their fortunes.
“It’s one more road to cross. Now we have something to be motivated about,” Beebe said. “We’ve learned from our mistakes in the past. I’m sure we’ll learn from this as well. And if we can get back here on the stage, hopefully there will be a different story and outcome for us.
“It would be a different scene next year (if we would lose) because we’ll be losing a lot of players. The last two years we’ve lost one senior and this year we lose two so it kind of feels like you have the same team, like a professional team and you’re trying making a dynasty of it because you’re not losing many to graduation. Next year, we won’t have them all after that, so we have one more year to make a run at this thing.”