Penn Hills boys cap rebuilding season
Things broke the wrong way for the Penn Hills boys soccer team, which battled through injuries to key contributors all season.
The Indians lost starting goalkeeper senior Luke Greenway, a Grove City commit, to a torn meniscus on the first goal kick in the first scrimmage against Penn-Trafford. Greenway didn't return to action until Sept. 21 when the Indians lost at Woodland Hills, 2-0.
Despite missing the first seven games, Greenway was selected second-team all-section in Section 3-AAAA. Senior midfielder Evan Weston joined Greenway as a second-team selection.
Weston also missed time with a broken foot, suffered against Fox Chapel on Sept. 5, and didn't return until the second half of the season.
“It's well-deserved to be recognized on a team that came in last place,” second-year coach Ryan Hankey said. “We really missed those guys. They were the true leaders on the team. It was fun to have them back, and I know it was a really tough year from every aspect, but hopefully they put out there the hard work and work ethic the future team will have learned from them.”
Sophomore midfielder Iain Krieger and senior defender Jaden Rouse were named honorable mention.
“Jaden to me was the team's MVP. He would do anything I would ask him to do. Sometimes, I would ask him to move up front because of his speed, help with defense to help with the other team's speed,” Hankey said.
“He really showed the heart of the team out there. He never quit, even when the scores were getting up high.”
The Indians (0-17-1, 0-12 in Section 3), who only scored six goals, tied Latrobe, 1-1, on Oct. 14 in nonsection play, the only game they didn't lose.
With depth being an issue, Penn Hills struggled during the second half of games after putting together strong and competitive first halves.
In back-to-back games, the Indians went into halftime 0-0 against Fox Chapel and Central Catholic but ended up losing 4-0 to Fox Chapel and 5-0 to Central Catholic.
The Indians received strong contributions from junior midfielders Stephen Salah and forward Malik Paolucci. Hankey will look to add freshman midfielder Anthony Sciulli, who missed half the season with a torn ACL, to the mix next year.
Penn Hills' backline was supported by junior defenders Matt Lloyd, Shane Myers and Brent Starr, as well as sophomore defenders Mike DeVito and Javon Williams.
“I'm hoping that carries onto next year,” Hankey said. “I know it was really frustrating this season. Hopefully, they know the things that we need to work on, and it was a very team-building experience year to move forward to next year.”
With all of the injuries this season, many underclassmen played valuable varsity minutes, especially sophomore goalkeeper AJ Collins, who stepped in for Greenway at the beginning of the season.
“We are going to work really hard in the offseason through winter training, winter tournaments and spring ball to really work on the finer things that we couldn't do because we were trying to do a little bit of rest and working with the younger players in between games,” Hankey said.
Andrew John is a freelance writer.