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Thomas Jefferson soccer team seeking return to playoffs

| Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, 8:55 p.m.

Michael “Doc” Kulish is hoping the Thomas Jefferson boys' soccer team helps him celebrate his 20th year of coaching with a WPIAL playoff berth.

“We are trying to achieve a playoff position, which we missed by a half game last season,” Kulish said.

The veteran soccer coach owns an impressive 277-121-21 career record at Thomas Jefferson.

“It is difficult to believe this is my 20th year of coaching,” Kulish said.

The Jaguars are aiming to bounce back from a 7-5 slate and fourth-place finish in Section 3-AA last year, as the local squad trailed South Park (10-1-1), Steel Valley (9-2-1) and Southmoreland (8-2-2) in the final standings.

Thomas Jefferson is a senior-driven squad this season — led by Severin Scott at the midfield area, and Evon Dansak, a midfielder/defender who also will handle the placekicking duties on the Jaguars' football team.

Both are returning starters and fourth-year varsity players.

Dansak and Scott also will serve as co-captains this season, along with Luke Good, a junior forward and second-year varsity player.

There are 12 seniors on the early season roster at Thomas Jefferson, which finished 10-8 overall in 2011.

Along with Dansak and Scott, the senior class is represented by forwards Jake T. Prosser, Mike Cocuzzi and Quinton Gardner; midfielders Jake P. Prosser and Josh Dalton; defenders Jared Raszewski, Chris Crane and Nick Oriss; and two goalkeepers in Asher Williams and Mac Stuncard.

“All the starting positions have not yet been established,” Kulish said. “Our strength this year is our experience. We have 12 seniors, and 12 players returning that saw a lot of playing time last year.

“We need to get better at finishing and capitalizing on set plays, and (our) corner kicks.”

Good is one of only three juniors on the team, joined by defender Mike Redmond and goalkeeper Charlie Scharbo.

Rounding out the squad are sophomores Nick Burkett, Matt Wardlaw, Derek Rothey, Mahesh Dhaubhadel, Eric Coholan, Pat Walsh and Rico Braun; plus freshman prospect Matt Prezioso.

Burkett and Dhaubhadel are midfielders; Rothey, Walsh and Prezioso man forward positions.

Wardlaw, Coholan and Braun are all defensive specialists.

Section opponents for the Jaguars this season are Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, South Park, Steel Valley, West Mifflin and Yough.

Belle Vernon and Elizabeth Forward are newcomers to the section; Southmoreland and South Allegheny dropped out from a year ago.

Belle Vernon (20-4) and Elizabeth Forward (10-8-1) finished in second and third place, respectively, in Section 6AA last season.

Southmoreland moved into Section 6AA this season; South Allegheny dropped down to Section 1A.

Kulish predicted South Park, Belle Vernon and Elizabeth Forward as being the teams to beat.

The Jaguars have not participated in the playoffs since 2008, when they finished as the WPIAL Class AA runner-up and advanced to the PIAA semifinal round.

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

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