Tyler Hamstra admits he’s not a dictator when it comes to coaching.
The laid-back approach for the Bentworth High School girls soccer coach resonates.
“I just have a laid-back personality,” Hamstra said. “The girls appreciate somebody who just wants to make them better, somebody who has their best interest at heart. It’s been a perfect match.”
A match that has led to double-digit wins in each of his first five seasons, two section titles and last year the first girls team from Bentworth – in any sport – to make a WPIAL championship appearance.
How do you top that?
For Bentworth, which hasn’t had to open its WPIAL championship trophy case other than to dust off boys basketball and wrestling trophies, each from more than 25 years ago, it’s about adding trophy No. 3.
Returning 10 starters from a team that went undefeated in Section 2-A, won a program-record 18 games, made the Class A WPIAL championship game and won a PIAA playoff match is a good start.
The Bearcats lost to Freedom, 8-2, in last season’s district final.
“We have a lot of experience and a big senior class coming back,” Hamstra said. “Six of them have started since they were freshman. We have sophomores who got a lot of experience last year. Our freshman class coming in is tough, too. We are really excited about it. We want to make another run.”
A run at another title chance will start up front with the return of forwards Jocelyn Timlin and Paige Marshalek.
Already the all-time goals leader in program history, Timlin has five markers in Bentworth’s first two games this year, a 10-0 win over Uniontown and a 2-1 victory against Ringgold. She has 115 career goals.
Marshalek will likely eclipse 100 goals and assists shortly after the Bearcats start section play, which begins tonight with a game at Geibel Catholic. Marshalek entered the season with 84 goals and 94 assists.
“They’ve had to carry weight on their shoulders and that can be tough sometimes,” Hamstra said. “They just really want it.”
The experience carries to the midfield and defense. Rori Schreiber, Lindsay Davis and Caroline Rice are all returning senior midfielders. The Bearcats’ entire back line is returning, including seniors Hannah Roberts and Emilie Snyder and sophomores Taylor Leonetti and Maleena Rokicki.
The only position where Hamstra needed to fill a void was at goalkeeper after the graduation of four-year starter Candalaria Kossel. Sophomore Jasmine Manning will handle the goalie duties and Rice could also play in net.
“A lot of things have bounced our way,” Hamstra said. “We want to try to dominate early and often. We want to play our level of soccer but a better version of it, primitive, athletic soccer with grit and athleticism.
“They aren’t putting pressure on themselves,” he continued. “They know how hard it is. Just because your team is good on paper doesn’t mean that’s how it turns out. They aren’t talking about going back to a championship but it’s in their heads. They know it. I know it.”