Talented and senior-laden heading into the season, the Bentworth boys soccer team had some high expectations — if it could fill a couple of crucial holes.
Enter a slick sophomore — and a two-headed monster.
Nick Liermann is having one of the best statistical seasons for a goalkeeper in school history, and the dynamic scoring tandem of Nick McCann and Cody Levine have erased any doubts the Bearcats had about offense.
The result has been a season to remember for Bentworth.
“We feel really good about the way things have gone,” senior defender Jim Liermann said. “At the beginning of the season, everybody was doubting how well we were going to do. It's been great to show them all what's up.”
What's up is the Bearcats' scoring — from 2.5 goals per game by last season's 10-8-1 team to 3.6 per contest this season.
What's down is the team's goals-against average — from 1.9 last year to 1.4 this season.
Considering Bentworth lost its top striker and goalkeeper from last season's playoff team to graduation, those figures have been a pleasant surprise.
“Even with all the senior starters, I had questions,” coach Gary Amos said. “Our leading goal scorer the last few years (J.T. Paterini) was all-WPIAL and the section player of the year as a senior, so I was worried about scoring. And we also lost our goalkeeper, who was a four-year starter. So that was goalkeeping and scoring — both ends were concerns. We've been very happy with the kids who have filled in there.”
The scoring slack has been picked up by seniors McCann and Levine, who have combined for more than 40 goals this season.
“They're our two-headed monster,” Jim Liermann said.
McCann has already matched Paterini's production on his own with 25 goals.
“(Levine) and I have good chemistry,” McCann said. “He just has a way of sending me the ball and setting me up, and I put them in the back of the net.”
Nick Liermann, Jim's brother, has seven shutouts and has a chance to break the school record in that category.
“I'm really psyched about him,” McCann said. “He's been great.”
What has helped a young goalie is the bevy of experience in front of him. The Bearcats have four senior fullbacks — two of whom are team captains and multiple-year starters.
Chris Moyer is a co-captain who has been out for two weeks due to injury but figures to return in time for the playoffs. Chris Brandl and Jesse Martin are two other reliable senior starters at fullback, but it's three-year all-section performer Jim Liermann whom Amos calls “one of the best leaders I've had in my eight years here.”
Other senior starters include midfielders Adam Bell and Ian Zaccone. Sophomore Joe Gaso and freshman Chad Gurdish also start in the midfield.
Bentworth (11-3, 10-0 Section 4-A) has clinched its second section championship. Two more wins this week would give it an undefeated season in section play.
This is the fourth consecutive season the Bearcats have made the playoffs — but they have yet to win a playoff game.
“We have some big goals this year, and that, for sure, is one of them,” Jim Liermann said.
So, what are the other goals?
“WPIALs would be nice,” Liermann said. “A WPIAL championship.
“We all think that's something that's possible and not out of our reach.”
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