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View Count: 75 |  Publish Date: September 04, 2013
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Pushing each other, and Neshaminy
Kate Harman, For The Inquirer Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013, 3:01 AM
Its 50/50.
Sometimes, Neshaminy forward Megan Schafer gets the better of her goalkeeper, McKenna Mullin, in practice.
On other days, its Mullin who shines.
Together, the seniors are just two reasons that the Redskins are excitedly optimistic about this season.
I really feel like they make each other better, said coach Rachel Clemens, who has been at the Redskins helm since Schafer and Mullin were freshmen. McKenna isnt going to give up many easy shots. She challenges Meg to have better shot location, to strike it harder than she is used to.
I think it has been a beneficial thing for both of them.
Last year, Clemens squad made program history, winning 20 games, going undefeated in the Suburban One Leagues National Conference, and reaching the PIAA Class AAA state semifinals.
The team lost only three players to graduation, and that makes the Redskins all the more dangerous this year - and more aware of the expectations.
They have a target on their backs, and they know it.
We have everything to lose, yeah, but it helps us, Mullin said. It pushes us. We have big expectations for playoffs and states this year.
I like that we have people chasing us, Mullin added. It gives us something to push for.
Midfielder Katie Suchodolski is another playmaking senior for the Redskins (1-0), and Gabby Farrell is a sophomore who plays opposite Schafer up top. With eight seniors on the roster, Neshaminy is chock full of experience and leadership.
Schafer said going through the district and state tournaments last year helped this years seniors become better leaders and build a stronger work ethic.
We are ready. We are ready to go through it all again, Suchodolski said. But this time, we are going to get that district title. This time, we want that state title.
Schafer, a Penn State recruit, is one of the top offensive threats in the area, scoring 72 goals over her first three seasons.
As a junior, she scored 27 goals and racked up 23 assists on her way to being named an all-American and the Pennsylvania girls soccer player of the year by the Coaches Association.
Extremely quick - not just in pure speed but with the ball at her feet, as well - Schafer is a playmaker who often sets up her teammates for goals instead of taking the shot herself.
Shes definitely somebody who is team-first and she comes second, Clemens said. We expect great things from her, and shes capable of it.
Back at practice during the waning days of preseason, Schafer took a touch and effortlessly rocketed the ball into the back of the net. The next one was Mullins, though, as she got her hands on the ball and deflected it.
Its a good challenge, Mullin said. Theres no way to get better except going against the best.
No one was keeping count during the shooting drill, but that changed in the Redskins first game of the season, when Schafer netted a hat trick and Mullin posted a shutout.
The result was a 5-0 win against Downingtown West, a rival that had beaten Neshaminy twice last season and a team that the Class of 2014 hadnt defeated freshman year.
To call the contest one the Redskins were looking forward to is an understatement. Schafer called it crucial to the success of the season.
Sure, in practice, Schafer and Mullin duke it out, challenging each other to get better.
But, in games, it is no longer 50/50. They are competing for the same side.
Contact Kate Harman at rallysports@phillynews.com.Kate HarmanFor The Inquirer #post2 .pw-icon.ra1-pw-icon-reddit {background: url() 0px 0px no-repeat !important;width: 60px !important;height: 20px !important;margin-right:8px;}#post2 .pw-icon.ra1-pw-icon-email {background: url() 0px 0px no-repeat !important;width: 71px !important;height: 28px !important;}0commentsReprints & Permissions »

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Time: 2:56  |  News Code: 329422  |  Site: philly.com
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