Plum passes season-opening test, shuts out Penn-Trafford
Freshman forward Ryan Smith wasted no time in scoring the first goal of his varsity career.
His tally about 20 min- utes into the first half gave the Plum boys soccer team a 1-0 lead over Penn-Trafford last Friday in a semifinal game at the Shaler Tournament.
The Mustangs added two scores in the second half to complete the 3-0 victory and get them off to a flying start.
“Ryan comes off the bench for us, and he's been pretty calm, cool and collected,” Plum head coach Mike Baleno said.
“He has a knack for finding the goal. He had a goal in the scrimmage against Butler as well. We're looking for him to be a contributor for us this year and put some goals on the board.”
Baleno said he saw some good things from his players in the first game after several weeks of productive practices and scrimmages.
“I thought we played well overall,” Baleno said
“We had a lot of possession and moved the ball nicely. The big thing we took from that game is that we finished our opportunities and came out with a shutout. That's pretty big for the first game of the year.”
Seniors Shane Rings and Matt Baleno — both top scoring threats in the Plum offense — each recorded a goal in the second half.
“Penn-Trafford started pushing forward a little more in the second half to try and get the equalizer, and we took advantage of a couple of counter opportunities,” Coach Baleno said.
“Shane had a really nice goal where he beat a couple of their defenders, and Matt scored off a set play.”
Coach Baleno said he can rely on Rings and Matt Baleno to score goals again this season, but, he said, there are scoring threats among the younger guys in addition to Smith.
“It takes some pressure off the seniors,” coach Baleno said.
“It shows that we have multiple guys who can score. Hopefully, we won't rely on just one guy to score all our goals this year.”
Coach Baleno said he equally was pleased with his defense.
“Penn-Trafford is always a good team, and they are very well coached,” he said. “They like to send guys forward from the outside backs. (Senior) Bryan Parker and (junior) Steve Hemmerle did a really nice job keeping the guys organized.”
Senior goalkeeper Dan Adamczyk helped Plum earn the victory in his first varsity start.
“He made a couple of big saves, and it was great to see him step up like that. It will certainly help build his confidence as we go on here.”
Coach Baleno said his players were simply amped up to get the season going and to begin it on a strong note.
“Shaler is always a great tournament,” he said.
“There are always some nerves involved, but once they got the adrenaline flowing, we did some good things. It was a great way to kick off the season.”
Mother Nature didn't smile on Plum or Shaler on Saturday, as the championship game between the Mustangs and Titans was postponed because of lightning.
“The game was supposed to start at 8 p.m., and the game before us got delayed,” coach Baleno said. “Even at 9, there was lightning in the area, and it was decided that it wasn't going to stop.”
Coach Baleno said the teams will try to reschedule the game for later in the season, but it will depend on how each schedule works out.
Plum will get its first crack at Section 3-AAA newcomer Allderdice on Thursday at Pittsburgh's Schenley Park.
The game is set for 3:30 p.m.
The Mustangs were slated to open section play Tuesday at home against Pittsburgh Central Catholic. The game was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.