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Hempfield boys soccer team opens season with new coach

| Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, 8:59 p.m.
Hempfield Area's Ryan Leonard brings the ball upfield versus Penn-Trafford during their September 6, 2012 match in Hempfield Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Hempfield Area's Ocke Sandgren controls the ball versus Penn-Trafford during their September 6, 2012 match in Hempfield Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

Hempfield first-year head boys soccer coach Tim Turner is no stranger to the sidelines.

He learned a lot about coaching at the high school level from his former boss.

Turner was an assistant under Norwin's Kevin Chitester for eight years and, in his tenure, he saw what it takes to run a successful WPIAL soccer program.

“I learned so much under him about how the game is played and how to manage a game and a team,” Turner said. “To get (the players) to go the right way with different training techniques and to get them into that possession type of game.”

The first task he undertook with the Spartans was to implement the possession-style offense that was prevalent at Norwin for the better portion of 15 years. Getting his players to buy into his philosophies came much easier than anticipated.

“We have a good core group and some young guys contributing,” Turner said. “It's tough taking over a team that you don't really know. You've only competed against them.

“That grace period of trying to see how kids play, how they work with each other has passed, and the kids have responded well.”

Junior center midfielders Nolan Beresford and Ryan Leonard dictate the tempo of the offense, along with outside midfielders Andy Sukolsky, a sophomore, and junior Alex Lindardi. The group is responsible for getting the ball to sophomore forwards Scott Fox and foreign exchange student Ocke Sandgren.

In the defensive zone, senior captains Justin Horn and Brendan Stack and juniors Ben George and Chris Wise serve as the last line of defense.

The Spartans, who have opened the season 3-1-1 overall and 1-0-0 in Section 1-AAA, were dealt a significant loss Saturday when senior Josh Nagy suffered a broken leg.

“We have some speed, which has helped us a lot early on, and we have some size,” Turner said. “We have a couple guys who have some pretty solid skills, and it's shown because we've been able to play with everyone we've played against so far.”

It's clear that Turner will use a lot of the philosophies he learned under Chitester, but over time the Spartans will carve their own identity, he said.

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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