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Mari Houseknecht on Pace for an Outstanding Season With the Lancers

It’s always a difficult challenge to make your first varsity start as a young competitor. Try making it the first start of your career, and it’s easy to see how special the start to Loyalsock’s Mari Houseknecht’s career has been.

Loyalsock coach Ben Comfort kept tabs on Houseknecht all through the offseason, waiting for her to commit to the team. Houseknecht, who really never played soccer at any level prior to the start of this season, decided she wanted to join the team and immediately got to work.

“Having a keeper you can rely on it allows you to do a lot of different things out on the field with your team,” Loyalsock coach Ben Comfort said. “I feel confident, and I know my coaching staff does. Her confidence is just going to continue to build after that. It’s a relief to have someone like that back there that can play that well at the net.”

Houseknecht’s journey started over the summer when she decided to join the team. She instantly got to work with Comfort and her coaches as they quickly took advantage of her athleticism.

“I really had no idea if I wanted to play or not,” Houseknecht said. “Some of my friends were on the team, and I just decided to help them out.”

Houseknecht might have regretted her decision initially as she couldn’t make out anything as her teammates ran around on the field.

“At first I didn’t understand anything,” Houseknecht said. “People would help me out before and after practices. Midway through preseason, I started to understand things.”

Once everything started to click mentally, it was time for Houseknecht to let her athletic abilities take over. Her confidence started to build, and she started to be in the right spots without her teammates having to tell her.

As the confidence on the field and with her teammates started to grow, Comfort and the coaches started to see what type of player Houseknecht could be for the Lancers. She shut Williamsport out to open the season and went on to survive an overtime game against Hughesville.

“It’s good,” Comfort said of the win over Williamsport. “It’s going to give her confidence. If she has confidence, it gives the team in front of her confidence, and they are going to feed off of each other.”

Houseknecht’s week wasn’t done as she got her first overtime challenge on her second road game of the season at Hughesville.

Again, the pressure was amped up as one goal would decide the outcome and once again Houseknecht was there for her team. She stopped shots and allowed her team to walk away with another one-goal victory.
“We had to get right back at it against a good Hughesville opponent,” Comfort said. “We were trying to prepare for that, and we were going to need Mari. She was going to have to come up with some big saves if we were going to win that game.”

Consider that challenge met as Houseknecht led another strong defensive performance for the Lancers.
From deciding to come out for the team and putting the work in throughout the offseason, Houseknecht has grown as a competitor throughout her short time with the team. She gives Loyalsock a real athlete at one of the most important positions on the field. She can move around the box, direct traffic in front of her, and, when needed, make amazing stops to keep her team in the game.

“She’s willing to do that, and she’s able to do that as well,” Comfort said. “We actually weren’t sure if she was going to play. It’s a relief. She made the decision, and she made the right decision. There is a future at the goalkeeping position for her as long as she sticks to working hard and learning.”

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