By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Staff Writer Steven and Peyton Petrosh both played for the Holy Spirit High baseball program, and Steven finished his career with 50 hits, 38 RBIs and a .305 batting average before continuing his baseball career at Kean University. Younger sister Ella claims she’s the best athlete in the Petrosh family — and after the fall season she just had on the soccer field, it’s going to be tough for her big brothers to argue against that statement. Petrosh finished her career with a 41-goal outburst as a senior, giving her the all-time single-season record for goals at Holy Spirit. She also finished her career with 79 tallies, just a few short of breaking the all-time goal-scoring record held by her current coach, Christine Conaghy. Petrosh was so dominant this year that she scored in 15 of Spirit’s 19 games and in only three of those games was she held to a single goal. She scored three or more goals nine times, and had an almost mind-numbing 14 goals the three times Spirit played non-public rival Our Lady of Mercy Academy. When the teams met in the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament opening round, Petrosh racked up six goals in a wild 9-7 win by the Spartans. “It was right off the bat. They scored first and then I’m like, ‘OK, well, I have to turn it on,’” Petrosh said. “I scored back-to-back goals and what made me keep going was on the loudspeaker they would say, ‘Ella Petrosh with their first goal.’ And then I heard, ‘Ella Petrosh with their fourth goal,’ and then all of a sudden it was, ‘Ella Petrosh with their sixth goal.’ That was a crazy game.” “Not all of the teams that we played were high caliber, but the best teams that we’ve played — against OLMA she scored 14 goals in those three games. She just has a natural ability to find the back of the net,” said Conaghy, who scored 34 goals her senior year and finished her career with 82 before starring at NJIT. “It’s her speed, her skill level, her technique. She definitely earned every single goal that she got. She’s also very hard on herself and I think that is a good thing. It helps her. It pushes her to keep going. She holds herself to a very high level.” Petrosh kept a tradition alive of a player breaking her coach’s former record. Conaghy broke the records of her former coach, Alicia (Hall) Downey. “Records are meant to be broken so I’m so happy for her,” Conaghy said. “It’s even cooler that I’m here for it and I got to watch her do it. Similarly, Alicia got to watch me break her record, so it’s kind of crazy how that all unfolded.” What made the scoring record possible was Petrosh’s competitive nature, and that comes from playing sports against her older brothers growing up, she said. Her parents never admonished Steven or Peyton to take it easy on Ella, and constantly trying to compete with bigger, stronger, faster boys turned Petrosh into one of the best strikers in South Jersey. “It was pretty big shoes to fill with Steve. I learned from him the competitiveness. Growing up we were always competitive,” Ella said. “And watching him play, he was always super competitive and super into it and that kind of just led me to be the same way. (Having older brothers) 100 percent helped because my parents, they just let it happen (when my brothers were tough on me). So that built me to who I am now, how competitive and how aggressive I am now, playing hard and wanting to win. “I’m shocked but proud of myself at the same time that I did it. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d score 41 goals in a single season,” she continued. “It was my best season out of all four years. It was the most fun. The team was so close and every game we were having fun. Yes, we wanted to win, but at the same time everyone had smiles on their faces and everyone was locked in and playing to their potential.” This year’s Spartans had an outstanding season under Conaghy, a first-year coach who is just 24 years old. They had 13 different goal scorers and keeper Millinda Marigliano made more than 170 saves. The Spartans had two four-game winning streaks and a five-game streak, and won a pair of postseason games. “It was my senior year, so I was kind of like, ‘just have fun.’ And then as the games went on I was like, ‘oh, my God, I think I’m going to beat the record.’ My sophomore year I thought I was going to but it just didn’t happen. And then my senior year I never would have thought I was going to beat the record with her being the coach,” said Petrosh, who also is an outstanding baskeball player. “It was a little rough with a new coach, there were new things, but coach Conaghy brought all of us together. We did team bonding all the time. That was probably the closest team I’ve ever had in my four years.” Conaghy gave Petrosh a lot of credit for helping to get the most out of her teammates. “She absolutely is a phenomenal leader. She’s also been a big part of why it was a lot easier for me as a first-time coach because she already had a grip on the girls and was a natural leader so. She leads by example. She is the hardest working person on the field, so you know the underclassmen under her can follow that. And she’s not easy on herself, she holds herself to a high level, so when she’s critiquing the rest of the team, they accept it because they know she’s critiquing herself the same way. Having people to look up to is huge, and she’s doing the same thing for the girls. Yes, she scored tons of goals this season, but she’s also been very selfless. She’s given up penalty kicks to other girls on the team, and she had a good number of assists as well. She’s not just focused on herself. She makes the girls around her better. She really is a selfless player and that’s a testament to her leadership. I’m just so proud of the hard working player she is,” Conaghy said. “I think she’s on the fence about whether she wants to play in college but I think she would be a phenomenal player in college. I’m excited to see what she does, whether she plays in college or whether she follows her passion into something else because she’s definitely a great leader and a hard worker, and those are the people who typically are very successful.” Petrosh said she’d like to continue playing in college and said she’d be ready for that kind of challenge. “I think it’s going to be completely different, nothing like high school, but I think that’s for the better,” she said. “I think it’s going to be more competitive, which is right up my alley. And I think it’s going to make me even better.” For now, the Mullica Township native has about five more months left on Holy Spirit’s campus in Absecon, a place that’s become dear to her heart the last four years. “I think it’s the best decision me and my parents have ever made,” Petrosh said of attending Holy Spirit. “I made new friends, met new people and that has helped me become who I am. I think it was a great new step in the right direction for me.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays
Sully, as he’s known throughout South Jersey, began his newspaper career in 1995 and has worked for some of New Jersey’s top papers, including The Asbury Park Press and Press of Atlantic City, as a writer and editor. He’s earned several New Jersey Press Association awards and continues to produce high quality reporting, writing and photography.
A native of Ocean County, Sully played high school baseball at Lacey Township High and college baseball at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. After a successful 15-year career in the newspaper business, Sully launched Glory Days Magazine in 2013 and for nearly a decade has been bringing fans outstanding and insightful coverage of high school sports throughout South Jersey.