New coach, same high expectations for Sewickley Academy boys soccer.
Former Panthers assistant James Boone took over for Uwe Stender during the offseason with the team coming off WPIAL and PIAA semifinals appearances.
The team is 5-0 and has outscored opponents, 15-2, so far this season.
“We made a nice little run in WPIALs and states last year, but that kind of expectation is always here,” said Boone, who spent a year coaching the Sewickley Academy junior-varsity team before spending the past two seasons as Stender's assistant. “The tradition extends not only to last year, but the last 20 or 25 years, they've been very strong. So we just try to keep that tradition going.
“The expectations are very high. And the kids know that, and they want to keep that rich tradition going. They don't want to disappoint, so they definitely are willing to work and are committed to doing what they need to do to be successful.”
That goes for seniors and freshmen. Some of each are making significant contributions to this season's team.
Sewickley Academy returned eight starters, including four of their six seniors. There also are three freshmen who receive an abundance of paying time — midfielders Ryder MacDougall and Geoffrey Schuchardt and forward Matt Teitelbaum.
“Any time you have freshmen step up, that's a good surprise,” Boone said. “The kids we have, we knew about their abilities, but you always wonder if that will translate to varsity right away. That's a nice bonus for us that they have.”
Balancing out the youngsters are the senior foursome of defenders Max Proie and Rob Nogay, goalie Hayden Moyer and forward/midfielder Jake Mulholland. That group shares the Panthers' captaincy this season.
Other veterans who contributed to last season's run and return include junior forwards J.P. Bowell and Anthony Stinson, junior midfielder Steve Munn and junior defender Jack Matten.
“The chemistry is definitely there,” Boone said. “A lot of these guys played last year together, so they know each other pretty well, and they know what to do with the ball if they receive it and what they need to do with the ball to finish a play and how to make space ahead of the ball.”
Sewickley Academy is coming off what it hopes is a signature nonsection win. The Panthers won at Seton-La Salle, 3-1, last Saturday.
The Rebels are the defending WPIAL champions and entered the season ranked No. 1 in the Tribune-Review's WPIAL Class A rankings. Now the Panthers have vaulted into the top spot.
Seton-La Salle handed Sewickley Academy two of its six losses last season, including 1-0 in the WPIAL semifinals.
“We went pretty far last year with Coach Stender, so I think the kids know what it takes to be successful — not only in the section, but in the WPIAL playoffs and states,” Boone said. “And hopefully, we get back to both this year.
“They have a wealth of experience playing the same style as last year. The kids know the system pretty well, so it's not much of a challenge. There's little tweaks here and there, but they're good enough to make those small adjustments enough for us to keep up the winning tradition.”
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