Alison Francis and Samantha Mazula have played major roles in helping the Dallas Mountaineers make it through the first half of their Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 girls soccer schedule undefeated.
Dallas took a break from conference title pursuits to meet Lake-Lehman Sept. 24 in the Back Mountain Rivalry Game, but Francis and Mazula did not slow down.
Francis scored a pair of second-half goals to break a tie and lift Dallas to a 3-1 victory.
Mazula had a hand in all three goals, giving Dallas a first-half lead, then assisting on both scores by Francis.
“Sam is doing a great job of distributing the ball to the offensive players and Ali,” Dallas coach Abe Lewis said. “And Ali is doing a great job in putting it in the back of the net.”
That production has come from a newcomer and a player at a new position.
Francis, a freshman, has been an immediate impact player as the top scorer on the top team in Division 1 from the center striker position.
Mazula is in a new playmaking role for her third season as a starter. She played outside midfielder as a freshman and center defender as a sophomore, leading the conference’s stingiest defense. This season, she is the offensive midfielder as part of a three-player triangle that Dallas uses to try to control the center midfield.
Lewis was aware that Francis would be a talented player joining his program as a freshman, but he has been pleased with how quickly she has become a force, producing almost 2 1/2 goals per game.
“She’s really matured quickly and adjusted to the speed and the physicalness of the high school game very quickly,” he said. “I knew she was an up-and-coming talent, but it’s hard to judge when they’re playing club and even junior high ball, because they’re really only playing with kids their own age.
“It’s that jump coming into high school when you’re a ninth grader going up against players that are three or four years older than you; it’s the physical aspect of it that is kind of challenging for some.”
Francis has 22 goals and 1 assist in a 9-0 start, which has included wins against each other opponent in the division as well as non-league games with Stroudsburg, Abington Heights and Lake-Lehman.
The freshman prepared for her high school debut by playing with the Wyoming Valley Soccer Club and has a long-term goal of attending Penn State.
Mazula, who plays in the Philadelphia area with the Continental Football Club, is looking at the possibility of playing college soccer at Youngstown, Xavier, Villanova or Syracuse. She is the team leader with 10 assists while also scoring 4 goals.
The ability to set up teammates and control play in the middle of the field was something Lewis was hoping for when he juggled the lineup going into this season.
“With the addition of some new players and some other players getting some more experience last year, we were able to move to a more offensive lineup this year,” Lewis said. “We were able to shore up the back with different players that have really come on strong, which allows me to put Sam Mazula in a more offensive center-mid position.”
Dallas was outscoring opponents 29-6 in WVC play and 38-8 overall through nine games as it prepared to begin the second half of the conference schedule Thursday. It has dominated several opponents, but also managed to pull out one-goal games against Crestwood, Coughlin and Stroudsburg.
“Our team’s off to a very good start,” Lewis said.
Lake-Lehman is also off to a strong start in Division 2 in the first year of realignment of the WVC.
The Black Knights made it through the first half of their schedule at 7-1 with the only loss coming to first-place Holy Redeemer.
Amanda Ayers scored against Dallas while Mackenzie Love, the WVC’s top scorer at almost three goals per game, had the assist.