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Valley's boys soccer team prepares for WPIAL playoff debut

| Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, 11:59 p.m.
Valley's Drew Buzzell (No. 23) attempts to free the ball against Deer Lakes' Tyler Smith (No. 25) during the soccer game at Valley High School in New Kensington on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

Senior defender Drew Buzzell said a new, positive outlook has taken root among Valley's boys soccer players.

A major jump in number of victories and the first-ever trip to the WPIAL playoffs will do that.

Valley, which started its boys soccer program in 1990, will make its postseason debut after years of residing in or near the basement of its section.

Valley (10-4-3), seeded No. 13, will try to feed off its newfound confidence when the Vikings visit No. 4 Quaker Valley (14-3-1) at 8 p.m. Monday for a Class AA first-round game.

“I can feel it's different from when I came up as a freshman,” Buzzell said. “When I first came up, we knew that even if we tried as hard as we could, we might not win. Now we know if we do what we're coached to do, we should put a win together.”

Valley placed third in Section 1-AA with an 8-1-3 mark. The Vikings' section results include a split with first-place Indiana (12-4, 10-2) and a pair of ties with second-place Burrell (13-1-2, 9-1-2).

Considering Valley posted a combined record of 7-43-2 in the three previous seasons, it's clear this year has been a breakthrough campaign.

Valley coach Andy DeAntonio, in his seventh season, played for the Vikings before graduating in 1998.

“I'm excited about the position the program is in,” he said. “It was a couple years of work and dedication from these players. I'm not putting the other teams down that came before them, but these kids need to be given a lot of credit.”

Valley finished 2-15, 1-11 in the section last season. However, the Vikings graduated only one starter, and the team's collective experience and dedication to improving has paid off.

“These kids put in the time during the offseason,” DeAntonio said. “They made a commitment at the end of last season.”

With only two senior starters, Valley could keep the good times rolling.

In addition to Buzzell, forward Steve Colagrande is a senior.

The other starters are juniors Dom Guzzi (forward), Josh Noel (goalkeeper), Cody Schrecongost (defender), Luke Thimons (midfielder), Tanner Walker (midfielder) and Ethan Walkowiak (midfielder), and sophomores Ben Carlisle (defender), Caleb Davis (midfielder) and Zach Hall (defender).

Noel, a two-year starter, has recorded seven shutouts, including three in a row to cap the regular season.

“The defense in front of him does a nice job of protecting him,” DeAntonio said. “But when those balls get through, he knows he's going to have to come up big. And he does it time and time again.”

Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at pkogut@tribweb.com or 724-224-2696.

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