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Gateway coach likes effort of team in season-opening tie with Franklin Regional

| Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, 8:47 p.m.
Times Express
Gary Bills | Times Express Senior goaltender Nate Kleya helped the Gateway varsity boys soccer team forge a 0-0 overtime tie with Franklin Regional in the season-opener last Saturday.

Four games in six days, Gateway varsity boys soccer head coach Chris Duda said, is a nice challenge he hopes his players will embrace.

“It is a really good chance to find out what our team is made of,” Duda said.

Gateway was scheduled to open its Section 3-AAA schedule Tuesday at Woodland Hills, and the game was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.

The Gators host Penn Hills at Antimarino Stadium on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and then they head to the Pine-Richland Tournament for games Friday and Saturday. Gateway plays Mars on Friday at 6 p.m. and Pine-Richland on Saturday at 8 p.m.

“We can use these games to build confidence,” Duda said.

“We want to get some wins and build momentum. Our goal is to make the playoffs, and the guys are excited.”

Gateway opened its season Saturday and played to a 0-0 double-overtime tie with former section foe Franklin Regional.

“The guys were so excited to be out there for the first game,” Duda said. “(Franklin Regional) is a rival and was a playoff team last year. It's great to see the guys' willingness to go out and work hard.”

Gateway finished with six shots toward the Franklin Regional goal, and the Panthers' goalkeeper made three saves.

At the opposite end of the field, Gators senior netminder Nate Kleya made nine stops on 24 shots.

A Franklin Regional player earned a red card in overtime, and the Panthers played a man down in the two extra periods.

Gateway, Duda said, put some pressure on the Franklin Regional net in overtime but was not able to get the game winner.

“They saw the way they played and are excited, even with a tie,” Duda said.

The tie snapped Gateway's four-game losing skid to Franklin Regional from 2010 and 2011. The Gators fell to the Panthers last season by scores of 2-0 and 3-2.

“Our defense was really solid,” Duda said. “We really didn't allow them to get any shots close to the goal.”

Sophomore starting outside left back Sam Zeik went down to injury early in the first half, and, Duda said, he was pleased with his replacements.

“Sam went knee-to-knee with a Franklin Regional player, and he just couldn't continue,” Duda said. “(Juniors) Matt Davis and Sam Passalinqua filled in, and the defense didn't miss a beat. They did a great job for us.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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