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Tigers reflect on historic 4-year run

East Juniata has multiple All-Stars

Sentinel file photo
The East Juniata girls soccer team has achieved an unprecedented amount of success in the Tri-Valley League in the past four seasons, as the Tigers have compiled a record of 45-0 in league play. Kierstyn Fogle (No. 10), Leah Sankey (No. 19) and Alyssa Robinson (No. 20) were honored as Tri-Valley League All-Stars in 2020.

COCOLAMUS — East Juniata girls soccer has run rampant through the Tri-Valley League the past four seasons. Not only has this Tigers’ senior class won the TVL title every year, they went their entire high school careers without losing a league game. Kierstyn Fogle, Leah Sankey and Alyssa Robinson were all honored by the league, being named unanimous first team TVL All-Stars.

Fogle was named the league MVP and Val Dressler won Coach of the Year honors to top off the season. In her MVP season, the Tigers’ forward scored 28 goals and tallied 61 points in league play, both of those marks were by far the best in the TVL.

While her focus was always on the success of the team, Fogle appreciates that the league recognized her as one of the TVL’s best over the past three years.

“As for my individual accomplishments, I am very excited to have accomplished everything that I did, but the best part about what I achieved is that by doing these things I was able to help my team toward success,” Fogle said.

After losing many valuable seniors from last year’s district title team, players like Sankey and Robinson were asked to step up–which they did in a big way.

Sankey, a two-time TVL All-Star, reached a career mark, finishing with over 50 goals after her four years playing for the Tigers. Much like Fogle, Sankey was more focused on the team’s success than her own personal achievements.“Obviously as a team we would have loved to win districts and go to states. Unfortunately, this year only the winner of districts got to go to states. For our league though we won our fourth-straight TVL championship and were undefeated (in the league),” Sankey explained. “I wouldn’t have accomplished the things that I have if it wasn’t for my teammates and coaches. This year I think was my best year of high school soccer individually.”

Dressler agreed with Sankey’s self-assessment and praised her intelligence on the field which led to many goals and open shots, not only for her, but her teammates.

“Leah is an incredibly smart player, and it was great to coach her, especially this past season. She had a great season and we really got to see her passion and skill,” Dressler said. “She worked extremely hard every game and left it all out on the field. She definitely lit the fire under our team.”

With so much success over the past four years, Sankey had many memories that will stick with her as she moves on to college. While the good memories will stand out, Sankey sees herself not being able to shake the tough losses.

“Losing districts my first two years was definitely hard, but winning my junior year felt so good it was what we have been working for and finally winning was just the best feeling,” Sankey explained. “The memories that will stick with me the most is definitely winning districts, and the TVL all four years. Unfortunately, I’m sure the big losses will stick with me too.”

Sankey’s future plans include playing soccer at Kings College where she will pursue a career in athletic training.

While Fogle and Sankey were leading the charge on offense, Robinson patrolled the pitch as a defender, helping East Juniata allow just nine goals in 10 TVL games.

“”Individually, I was really happy with how I was able to perform, but I owe a lot of that to my team pushing me to do my best, as well as having the confidence in me to do so,” Robinson said. “As for the team, of course we would’ve liked to win a district title and go on a state run, but I’m so incredibly proud of our team.”

The senior defender admitted that the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling their season lingered over each practice and game, but knowing that, it pushed the girls to give it their all.

“I think we were all really nervous and we didn’t know what to expect going in,” Robinson said about playing during a pandemic. “Knowing that COVID could’ve cancelled our season at any moment really pushed us. We were playing every game like it was our last, because it very well could’ve been.”

This senior class was a tight-knit group that played competitive soccer together for over a decade. The bonds they formed and the trust they built with each other paid dividends on the field. It’s those relationships that Robinson and the rest of the seniors will miss as they all go their separate ways.

“Knowing that this group has played together forever, we always knew what we were capable of. It was just a matter of going out and executing,” Robinson said. “Playing with this year’s senior class was so special. We grew up playing travel and rec together. For like the past 12 years, we’ve always played together. It was super special that we were able to close our career together. What I’m going to miss most is the comradery of this team. We were able to celebrate each other’s successes, push one another and hold one another accountable.”

According to Dressler, Robinson became the vocal leader of the team and the other girls responded well to her.

“Alyssa Robinson is the most positive team player we have ever coached. From freshman year, even with not getting many minutes in varsity, she was never quiet. She was always cheering every single player on and picking the girls up when they were down,” Dressler said. “Alyssa has played many different positions for us and always stepped up where we needed her to.”

The leadership role came naturally to Robinson who became the team’s hype man during her first two years with the team. Once Robinson got the chance to start, that same level of enthusiasm carried over.

“I think it’s just my personality,” Robinson said about being the vocal leader on the field. “In my first two years, I was playing a lot of JV, (and I) wanted to hype up my friends that were out on the field playing varsity. Val made it clear that she was happy with that and I thought it could make an impact on the field, so I was happy that she noticed that and that it carried over to leadership on the field.”

Robinson will be pursuing a career in speech language pathology, although she has not decided which school she will attend. The TVL All-Star’s soccer career will end as she currently has no plans to play at the next level.

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