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Latrobe boys soccer 'can't wait' to become playoff contender

| Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Greater Latrobe defender Caleb Jackson hauls down Penn-Trafford Steven Sieber during their September 13, 2012 at Legion Keener Park in Latrobe. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

After years of mediocre-to-poor seasons, the Latrobe boys soccer team can't wait to turn things around.

In the past, the Wildcats might have dreaded matchups against the WPIAL elite.

Now? Can't wait.

Unlike at times in other years, Latrobe is looking forward to practices and games.

The Wildcats can't wait.

A program that hasn't had a winning season in nine years, hasn't qualified for the WPIAL playoffs since the early '90s and went 3-12-1 last year, Latrobe believes it is turning a significant corner in building a winner.

“We want to change the culture,” senior co-captain Matt Wano said. “That's what we're trying to do. Usually, Latrobe is OK with losing all their section games except maybe one or two of them. Being OK with being blown out is not how it's supposed to be. Every game is supposed to be competitive. And we are more competitive with our new coach.”

Harry Corvese is in his second season after a year as an assistant. He is looking at the big picture in building a program from the youth level on up.

“Harry's been a big difference,” Wano said. “It's hot and cold the season before him and the season with him. We're really lucky to have him. I hope he stays as long as he can here because he's become the cornerstone of the team.”

Latrobe entered the week 3-4-1 after sweeping two games at the Ligonier Valley Tournament Saturday, beating Ligonier Valley and Greensburg Salem by a combined 10-0.

Although Latrobe is only 1-4 in Section 1-AAA play, Corvese noted that defeats to powerhouses such as Penn-Trafford, Norwin, Kiski and Franklin Regional have been much more competitive than they were in the past two years.

“We couldn't be more satisfied with way we are working,” Corvese said. “Latrobe's been a program on the rise for the last 20 years or so it's been since it made the playoffs.

“That's our goal we're working for. That starts with being excited for a big freshman class. Twelve freshmen came in this year who we'll look to develop the next four years. We think we'll really start to get competitive here in the next two years.”

You could say the Wildcats “can't wait” until they are.

That's become something of a rallying cry for the “new” Latrobe boys soccer.

“The kids have a great attitude about them,” Corvese said. “What we've been saying is, ‘Can't wait.' We can't wait to get out there and work, can't wait to play against our tough section teams.”

“It's just to get motivated,” Wano said. “You can't wait to get out and play. All day in school, you're sitting there thinking about soccer, it's the No. 1 thing on your mind. You can't wait to play the next game, can't wait to go to practice.”

A primary point of emphasis in many of those practices is ball possession. Led by Corvese, Latrobe envisions its ascension to being a playoff-level program.

“A foundation of keeping the ball and making every pass positive and productive,” Corvese said. “Trying to make the game beautiful and not just a big game of kickball.”

Senior strikers Brett Baughman and Nick Shannon are back after missing last season due to injury. Joining Wano, a fullback, as team captains are senior goalkeeper Gian Prosperi and senior midfielder Caleb Jackson.

Other returning starters for the Wildcats include junior Nick Tavella, junior defender Seth Leeper and sophomore midfielder Coby Green. Senior Kevin Davoli also is a returning starter but is out with injury.

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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