Thursday, December 08, 2022


 See this weeks print edition  

for these stories:

  • Local Bowling News
  • Tribe Girls Soccer Team Dominates PAC Honors
  • Lesko Looks Forward to Playing at Jefferson University
  • Tribe Girls Reach Title Game in Tipoff Tournament
  • Tribe Boys Open Season with Tournament Win
  • Lyman Leads Coast Guard Academy to Cup
  • and much, much, more!







Sports Article
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Neal, Kozminski, Bieler Excel As Tribe’s Defensive ‘Spine’
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Gabriella Neal, Samantha Kozminski and Lindsay Bieler spent last fall leading the Upper Perkiomen girls soccer team to its most successful season in school history. According to head coach Mike Freed, the trio utilized its durability and dedication to help the team post a school-record 18 victories, reach the Pioneer Athletic Conference title game and post a victory in the District One Class 3A playoffs.

           Freed described the trio of captains as the Indians' backbone and the spine of a defense that allowed less than one goal per game. He said they missed only two games over their combined 10 seasons of varsity experience.  "They showed unbelievable resilience," the coach said.

           All three will continue their soccer careers in college. Neal, a goalkeeper, has signed at LaSalle University, a Division I school in Philadelphia.

            Samantha Kozminski, a midfielder, will attend Mansfield University, a Division II school in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Lindsay Bieler, a center back, has committed to McDaniel College, a Division III school in Westminster, Maryland.

Gabriella Neal

            After playing her senior season without the certainty of a college offer, Gabriella Neal delivered a verbal commitment to LaSalle University in December. She said that doubt about her future motivated her performance during the fall.

            "It pushed me so much more," said Neal, a Pennsburg resident, who will major in health science at LaSalle. "It made me work 10 times harder, even in practice. I treated every session like a game, because you never know who might show up."

            The Indians seemed to benefit from her enhanced concentration. She allowed just 16 goals in 22 games, helping them post a 1-0 victory over Spring-Ford in the PAC playoffs and a 2-1 victory over Bishop Shanahan in the district playoffs.

            Freed described her as athletically gifted. The coach said Neal, who earned first-team All-Frontier Division honors, could have been one of the team's top six or seven field players.  "Gabi can make a lot of saves other goalies can't," Freed said of Neal. "Her technique is very good."

            The coach described Neal, who did not miss a game during her two seasons with the Tribe, as a calming influence for the rest of the defense. Freed said her presence allowed them to play with more confidence. "The girls in front of Gabi knew that if they made a mistake, she would bail them out," the coach said.

            Neal, who spent several years playing for a U.S. Soccer Development Academy in Downingtown, expected the recruiting process to go much smoother. She sent emails to the coach at Seton Hall, South Carolina and the University of Central Florida, but never heard back. She said High Point University, a Division One school in North Carolina, has already recruited a goalie.  "I got stuck," said Neal, who joined the high school team after the developmental academy shut down in April 2020. "It was very stressful."

            The coach on her club team – FC Delco, located in Conshohocken, which competes in the Elite Club National League – connected her to the Explorers. Neal officially accepted her scholarship offer in January.

Samantha Kozminski

            According to Freed, Kozminski should receive significant playing time at Mansfield. The Upper Hanover resident, who rejected walk-on invitations from Kutztown and Shippensburg, accepted a scholarship offer from the school after a visit.  "It felt like home," said Kozminski, who will major in social work. "It seemed family-oriented, which is what I wanted."

            Utilizing her physicality, and benefitting from an alignment shift, Kozminski dominated the midfield for the Tribe. Freed described the holding midfielder as the most physically prepared of the three to play at the next level.

            "Sam could be physically dominant when she needed to be," the coach said of Kozminski, who earned second-team All-Frontier Division honors. "She won a lot of 50-50 balls. She set a tone and made the defense better. Having a player in the center like that is wonderful."

            According to the Kozminski, the shift to a 4-3-3 alignment allowed everyone on the field to do their jobs. She said it minimized her requirement to run sideline to sideline. Instead, she relied on her stature to overwhelm most attackers.

            "That's always been one of my qualities on the field," said Kozminski, who headed in three goals on penalty corners. "As a team, we maintained good possession of the ball. The teamwork was strong and the defense was very strong."

            In four varsity seasons, Kozminski played in all 73 games on the schedule. Freed described her as only the third player he has coached in 32 years that has not missed a game.

Lindsay Bieler

            According to Freed, Bieler should have a legitimate opportunity to crack the starting lineup for the Green Terror in the fall. The East Greenville resident will major in business marketing at the school in central Maryland.

            She reads the field well and is adept at winning balls in the air, according to Freed. He described the player as a steady performer.  "Lindsay rarely makes a bad play," the coach said of Bieler, who also earned second-team All-Frontier Division honors.

            Bieler, a four-year starter for the Tribe, emerged as a defensive anchor as a 10th grader, according to Freed. He said quality center backs are hard to find.  "By her sophomore year, I knew Lindsay was going to give me exactly what I needed," the coach said of Bieler, who started 71 of 73 career games for the Indians. "I felt she was that good."

            Early on, the player said she had a feeling that her senior season could be special. Bieler said a roster loaded with talent led to intense practices.

            "Everyone wanted to do well, so it made us play better," she said. "We believed in each other. We had a good team chemistry, which led to so many wins."






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