Redhead leads an offensive attack


Mary-Lynn Retassie

Abby LaDuke (center, white) battles with a Millersville soccer player for ball control Sept. 8 at the Soccer Field.

Justin Schmithorst, Sports Editor

One way the Pitt-Johnstown women’s soccer team has won more games this season than in the past three years combined has been because of stellar plays from sophomore Abby LaDuke, who her teammates have nicknamed Bridge.

According to junior teammate Danielle Lippl, she has been nicknamed Bridge because of her ability to pass the ball effectively, connecting the offensive and defensive sides of the field. 

“LaDuke is a huge contributor. Whether it’s winning 50-50 balls out of the air and flicking it off her head or scoring goals, she is always making an impact,” Lippl said.

LaDuke leads the team in many offensive categories, including goals, assists and shots on goal.  

“I think our formation has helped her to be more effective. She’s the lone soldier up there on forward and she works her butt off to make things happen for us,” Lippl said. 

However, it hasn’t all been fun and games for LaDuke. 

According to Lippl, LaDuke has come back from a pair of knee ligament  tears.

LaDuke said tearing her knee ligament has taught me to appreciate the little things, like being able to have full extension and flexion in my knee, to walk, to run and to play soccer.

According to LaDuke, going through physical therapy taught her that hard work pays off. 

“It sounds silly, but the smallest accomplishments like being able to get your knee to bend five more degrees or being able to do a new exercise at physical therapy is an amazing feeling,” LaDuke said. 

LaDuke said that tearing her knee ligament the second time, and going through physical therapy again, wasn’t so bad because she already knew the drill. She said that she was determined to come back because playing college soccer is one of her goals. 

“I try to enjoy every second of playing soccer and never take it for granted, because I know how quickly it can all be taken away,” LaDuke said. 

LaDuke’s season got off to a good start Sept. 5, when she had two assists against California (Pa.) University, en route to a 3-1 victory. Her assists were all within the game’s first 20 minutes. 

“Finding the back of the net that many times and that quickly was a great way to set the tone of the game. We’ve had problems in past seasons with other teams scoring on us that early, so being on the other side was a great feeling,” LaDuke said.

A week later, LaDuke found the back of the net herself, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 defeat of Gannon University. 

“There is no better feeling than walking off the field with a victory,” LaDuke said. 

According to LaDuke, the one reason for her improvement and the team’s is their first-year head coach, Vito Addalli. 

“Vito has great ideas on and off the ball. I think he has helped not only me, but my entire team in believing that we can compete with any team we play against,” LaDuke said.  

According to Addalli, LaDuke has a great personality and plays with passion and toughness.  

“She definitely stands out with her determination to play at 100 percent and her bright red hair,” Addalli said. 

According to Addalli, his tactics have helped LaDuke shine because she is getting possession of the ball more frequently. 

Addalli has his own nickname for LaDuke, calling her “Ginja Ninja” in a reference to her red hair. 

According to senior teammate Claudia Torillo, she and LaDuke played on the same high scool team at Greater Latrobe High School in Westmoreland County.

“She is very effective at her position,” senior teammate Claudia Torillo said. “I wasn’t surprised that Abby fit right in on our team and in the conference.” 

“I had already seen her natural athleticism, but I was impressed with her ability to win the ball in tight situations with multiple defenders on her back,” Torillo said. 

According to Torillo, LaDuke is reliable when she needs to pass the ball to her from the other side of the field, as Torillo’s position is defensive while LaDuke’s is offensive. 

“If I need to send a long ball up the field she’ll be there to win it out of the air or flick it off to a teammate,” Torillo said.