HS GIRLS SOCCER: Davis contributes from Lakeland sideline

Sep. 5—SCOTT TWP. — During a break in preseason drills, 2021 Times-Tribune girls soccer player of the year Abby Davis collected her teammates' water bottles.

In reality, she couldn't do a lot more while rehabbing from a torn ACL. But it's what she did with those water bottles that caught the eye of first-year coach Megan Tweedy.

"When they're getting a water break, she's taking everybody's bottles, putting them on the ground and telling them, 'this is where you are, and this is where you need to be,'" Tweedy said. "It's awesome to see. I hope she coaches one day because she already has it in her."

It was like watching a skilled chess player move pieces around the board.

"I just let it go," Tweedy said. "Like, this is great. Let me set up the next drill because she's got it taken care of."

The explaining aspect, for sure. The playing side of things, that could take a while.

Davis tore her ACL in February, had surgery in April and recently got the go-ahead to participate in running and kicking drills.

She will be back sometime in October, important for Lakeland as it battles Dunmore and Montrose, other picks of coaches to make a run for the Lackawanna League Division II soccer title.

When she returns, she'll team with two-time All-Region performer Kristen Navich, a 50-goal, 50-assist career performer and last year's player of the year in Division II.

In Division I, Valley View earned the nod over Abington Heights, returning All-Region players Mya Cesarini and Eva Canevari from their run to the second round of the state tournament a year ago.

Cesarini, a sophomore, led the division with 14 assists and 10 goals. Canevari, a junior, had 10 goals and 20 assists last season.

Wallenpaupack's Abby Kimler, a 2021 All-Region player, is another of the region's top returnees.

Karina Goetter burst onto the scene as a freshman, earning all-state honors and scoring 30 goals, earning MVP laurels in Division III. She's also a big reason Mid Valley is an overwhelming choice to finish first.

At Lakeland, finishing atop the standings could be a formidable challenge after graduating seven starters.

"We have some starters who've never played before," Tweedy said. 'It's definitely a struggle, but it's always exciting to see them get better throughout the season."

Until Davis, a versatile midfielder as comfortable shutting down opponents as she is setting up teammates, returns, much of that job has fallen on Navich, a forward who's been up to the task.

"I don't think I realized how important she is defensively," Tweedy said. "She's a reason we're not giving up as many shots. I don't know how she has the energy to get back there."

That type of leadership is what Davis provides, too, and why everyone is anxious to have her back.

"Whenever I coached against her, she was unstoppable," Tweedy said. "She would just dribble right around people, pass around people. It was fun to watch. I can't wait to start to coach her because she was always the worst to coach against because you couldn't stop her.

"You have some major, major matchups in October and then hopefully going into the postseason. It's going to be exciting. I've told the girls since June, we're working hard so Abby could play as many minutes as she possibly can in the season and postseason."

Those numbers, and a starting date, are to be decided, but Davis' determination to get there is undefeatable.

"This team has been everything to me since my freshman year," said Davis of a squad that's won a District 2 title and been runner-up twice. "It's been a lot of ups and downs. I feel like we've just been through everything together and I love all the girls so much.

"It's very, very hard. The soulful journey of it is really hard, but watching definitely gives you a new sense of motivation to go out and do all your physical therapy that you're supposed to do. It gives you that extra push to get out and do it."

A push is something that's not required.

She's extremely, extremely optimistic about it," Tweedy said. "And I think that helps her through it all. A positive mind just helps everything."

So far, so good, both emotionally and physically.

"Definitely I just want to be a leader on the field," Davis said. "I want to make sure that all the girls have somebody to go to that's actually on the field, because it's really hard to do when you're on the sideline. I'm trying to help out as much as I can from there.

"It definitely puts a lot of pressure on you. But it also gives you more confidence so when you can go out there and play with a different kind of strength and lead your team better."

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