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Gateway welcomes stretch in unpredictable section

| Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, 8:55 p.m.

The Gateway varsity boys soccer team started the season with five games in seven days, and now, the Gators are in the midst of a stretch of three Section 3-AAA games in five days.

Game two of that stretch is Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at Fox Chapel, and the Gators then visit Plum on Saturday at 2 p.m.

“It's tough, but it's exciting,” Gateway head coach Chris Duda said.

“It's a good opportunity for us. This section is so up in the air, just seeing the losses coming from different clubs — Central Catholic going down to Plum (by a 2-1 score) and Woodland Hills upsetting Allderdice. The kids are hungry. They want to get there. Our goal is the playoffs. That's what we're going for.”

The week began with Fox Chapel at the top of the heap at 2-0, with Central Catholic at 3-1 and the Gators at 2-1. Plum, who beat Central Catholic, lost to Fox Chapel, and tied Allderdice, came in at 1-1-1.

Penn Hills (1-2), Woodland Hills (1-3) and Allderdice (0-2-1) rounded out the standings.

“The one thing everyone keeps telling me is that Gateway hasn't beat Fox Chapel at Fox Chapel in years,” Duda said.

“The guys want to get that this year. You can see their desire for that.

“Plum is a local rival, and it's a big game for the guys. This is a great week of opportunities. We want to see if we can pull in front of some of the other teams in the section.”

Gateway started its three-game stretch against Allderdice on Tuesday, and the game was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.

“The whole section is up in the air, and I feel our team has what it takes to make the playoffs,” senior co-captain Brian Carey said.

“We have a very important week of games, and we know what we need to do. We've been working hard, and we have just as much of a chance as everyone else.”

Duda said last week was a tough one for his players with a 6-1 loss to Kiski Area in a nonsection game and a 6-0 section defeat at the hands of Central Catholic.

But the Gators rallied after the losses and scored a 1-0 victory over Penn-Trafford last Saturday.

“Morale was down a little bit,” Duda said.

“Twelve goals in two games was a lot. To come back and get a win against a very talented team like Penn-Trafford was great. It was a good momentum boost for us heading into section play this week.”

Senior midfielder Ray Scalise scored the game's lone goal off a throw-in from senior defender Kenny Stevens about 20 minutes into the game.

“We kept fighting for more opportunities,” Duda said. “We had six shots, and they had 18. There were a couple shots deep in our zone where (senior goalkeeper) Nate (Kleya) made some great saves. We put a lot on the defense and the goalkeeper. We have to have our midfield and offense step up more.”

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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