Gateway set to visit Central Catholic for key section clash
Five games in seven days to open the season, Gateway varsity boys soccer head coach Chris Duda said, made for a long week, but the stretch that saw the Gators go 2-2-1 allowed him to see what his team can handle.
Gateway also is 2-0 in Section 3-AAA after wins over Woodland Hills and Penn Hills last week, and the Gators will test their mettle Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at section power Pittsburgh Central Catholic.
“I haven't seen or heard too much about them, but we've been working on improving the ability to play our game,” Duda said.
“If we can play our game and control the tempo, I think we'll be OK.”
Central Catholic outscored its first four opponents by a combined 20-2 — including an 8-0 triumph over Woodland Hills to open section play — before suffering a 2-1 loss at Plum on Saturday.
Duda said his team fared well in a pair of games at the Pine-Richland Tournament last Friday and Saturday but came up short against Mars (1-0) and Pine-Richland (2-0).
“The pace of play was entirely different than what we had faced previously,” Duda said.
“It was a much faster pace from two skilled and talented teams. They moved the ball very well. Being able to see it and play against it, the team learned they need to play much quicker and make better and quicker decisions with our passes.”
Duda said the Gators had good scoring opportunities in both games, but they just didn't finish.
“We just didn't take the shot we should've taken,” Duda said. “We were passing up opportunities where we were in open space and could take the shot but were still looking to get closer (to the net). We worked on getting better with that in practice on Monday.”
Duda said he liked the way the defense stepped up in shutout wins over Woodland Hills (2-0) and Penn Hills (3-0).
“We limited shots that were getting into (senior goalkeeper Nate Kleya),” he said. “When (shots) got to him, he's saw them very well. We forced (Penn Hills and Woodland Hills) to take quicker shots than they probably wanted to.”
Duda said the team has worked well to communicate and move the ball.
“Our midfield is dropping back to give the defense support, and once the defense controls the ball, it is using the midfield to distribute the ball,” he said.
Junior Matt Reynolds and sophomore Jared Jenkins scored first-half goals against Woodland Hills.
Freshman Dan Snyder assisted on Reynolds' goal.
In the Penn Hills victory, seniors Brian Carey and Kenny Stevens scored on penalty kicks, while Jenkins also scored a goal.
Sophomore Sam Seroky tallied an assist on Jenkins' goal.
Carey left the Penn Hills game with an injury, but, Duda said, he has gone through rehab and expects to play against Central Catholic.
Gateway was scheduled to face Kiski Area in a nonsection game Tuesday, and the contest was to be completed 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.