BUTLER TWP — Seneca Valley's Olivia Rupert hasn't let her status as an underclassman, or a position change, keep her from playing a key role in getting the Raiders to the playoffs.
The sophomore midfielder scored a game-high six goals in the Raiders' 13-7 regular-season finale victory over Butler at Art Bernardi Stadium Wednesday night.
“This is her second year on varsity, so she has a lot of game experience,” said SV assistant coach Emily Hopkins. “She played on the attack last year, but we moved her to midfield earlier this season.”
Rupert was one of six underclassman in the Raiders' starting lineup Wednesday. Some of that has been due to injuries to original starters, but Rupert has high hopes for the potential of SV's youth movement.
“It hasn't been that much of an adjustment because we've played together for a long time,” she said. “There's a lot of communication this season. If someone makes a bad pass, everybody else out there has their back.
“I've played midfield on my club team and I like it because I like playing defense, too.”
Rupert's first goal Wednesday came in a 14-minute stretch during which the Raiders scored six straight goals. She added one before halftime as the Raiders led 7-3 at the break.
Butler coach Annie Tigano saw improved play from the first time her team faced SV, an 18-2 Raiders' win in mid-April.
“We made smart decisions with our shots tonight,” she said. “Instead of shooting the ball right at the goalie, we were going off of cuts and picks.”
“I saw better execution out of Butler tonight,” said Hopkins. “They didn't play their best game the first time we played them.”
A goal from Butler's Cienna Tonini pulled the Golden Tornado to within 7-4 less than two minutes into the second half. Butler managed one more push, following three straight goals from the Raiders — from Kennedy Kyle and Rupert (2) in a span of 2:05. Eliza Drohan and Chloe Wertz scored for Butler to make the score 10-6, but that was as close as the Tornado would get.
Wertz finished the game with three goals and Drohan added two. Francesca Salvatore scored twice for the Raiders.
Goalie Katie Podlaski stopped seven shots for SV and Carley Gesin made eight saves for Butler.
While the Raiders (8-5, 8-4) are headed to the playoffs, Butler (5-12, 1-11) saw its season come to an end.
Butler won just a single game last year.
“The confidence just wasn't there at the beginning of the year,” Tigano said. “That started to build during the course of the season. Even in blowouts, they didn't get down on themselves. They stayed together.”
SV head coach Katie Smolter was unable to attend the game.