... Club coach puts 8 players in PIAA State Final ...

Friday, June 18, 2010
Club coach puts 8 players in final

John Abe was a very interested spectator at the PIAA Class AAA girls' soccer championship game last week at Hersheypark Stadium, although he had mixed feelings.

As coach of the Hershey KickKats Under-17 soccer team, he's familiar with some of the players. Five Hershey girls -- Molly Briggs, Ali Rogers, Lauren D'Amico, Shannon Fedyk and Carrie Cin -- along with Cumberland Valley's MacKenzie Neal, Kelly Pizzingrilli and Emily Roquemore, play on his team.

"I had eight girls in the state final," said Abe, a native of Germany. "Ali's the leader of the team. She's our only senior, but she's still age-wise eligible. I wished them all luck before the game and asked them only to get together after the game for a picture."

Abe's experience as a player and coach has served Hershey well. Jeff Rosensteel, boys' and girls' varsity coach at Hershey, appreciates the contributions of Abe and another club coach, Mike McHugh of the Hershey Attack.

It was McHugh's daughter, Riliegh, who scored the goal in Hershey's 1-0 victory over CV in the state title game.

"John Abe is the real deal," Rosensteel said. "He knows his stuff and relates to the girls very well. He teaches possession of the ball. They learn a lot from him."

Twelve of the 20 players on the KickKats roster have verbally committed to the college of their choice.

Rosensteel served as middle school coach at Hershey when Abe was the girls' varsity coach from 1998-2001. He also served as assistant women's coach at Elizabethtown College.

As a player, Abe learned the game in Germany, then honed his skills after moving to the Baltimore area in his teens.

"When I was growing up in Germany, Franz Beckenbauer was the star player," Abe said. "He practically invented the sweeper position."

He later played at Essex Community College and for the Harrisburg Heat, making the Heat's all-decade team for 1991-2001.

He also played for the Hershey Impact, which preceded the Heat and was coached by Super Nova FC founder, Niki Nikolic.

Abe holds a USSF "B" coaching license and was inducted into the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame in 2000.

He was a National Professional Soccer League All-Star in '90 and '91 and scored the game winner in the '90 APSL National Championship game for the Maryland Bays.

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