New coach ready to lead Penn-Trafford boys soccer
Jeff Nese spent the past six high school soccer seasons in the classroom instead of on the field, growing to miss the game in the meantime.
So when his brother told him about the vacant boys soccer coaching position at Penn-Trafford, he jumped at the chance to return to the field.
“This feels good to get back into it,” said Nese, the brother of Penn-Trafford girls soccer coach Rick Nese. “I realized how much I missed working with the high school players and everything, and I'm having a good time. I am excited about it. I'm looking forward to the season.”
Led by its new coach, the Penn-Trafford boys soccer team will begin its 2013 season at the Gene Biles Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Shaler High School. The Warriors will play Shaler on Friday and face a game against either Plum and Knoch on Saturday.
Coming off back-to-back seasons without a playoff berth, the Warriors are hoping for an improvement this season. Penn-Trafford finished 5-13 overall last season, including 4-8 in Section 1-AAA play.
“I just know that they haven't performed as well as their expectations have been for the last several years,” said Nese, who replaces Derek Cuthbert as the Warriors' coach. “That's why I think everybody's excited about just (having) a new start. Not that we're going to come out here and light up the world, (but) sometimes that's what it takes — a new clan of people in there changing things up.”
While coach at Plum, Nese led the Mustangs to the 2005 WPIAL Class AAA championship and a berth in the PIAA semifinals. He stepped down after the 2006 season.
Since taking the Penn-Trafford job in March, Nese said he has been working to teach the players several different styles in order to improve the team's competitiveness in the section. He said he hasn't spent much time talking about goals or expectations.
“With me dealing with high school teams in the past, you don't want to put that big picture out in front of them,” he said. “You just want to say, ‘This type of soccer is what we want to play, (and) if we can play it successfully, we're going to be competitive.' And that's what we're looking at right now. We want to be competitive, and that's what I'm preaching to them.”
The Warriors will be strong down the middle this season, with senior goalie Bryce Tramuta, junior center back Zach Schwartz and junior center midfielder Galen Kreutzberger among the team's key players. Tramuta and Kreutzberger will serve as the team's captains this season.
After those three, Nese said, numerous players are competing for a spot in the starting lineup.
“Usually in high school you have three or four players who separate themselves from the group,” he said. “We have a lot of guys that are right there on the same level, which could be a good thing. We're a pretty deep team — I'm thinking we're probably going to play 15 (or) 16 guys a game. So it's one of those things where our subs may be subs one game (and) may be starters the next game because we're not going to skip a beat too much from Player 5 down to 15.”
After this weekend's tournament, Penn-Trafford will begin section play with a game at defending section champion Kiski Area on Tuesday.
From what he's seen so far, Nese believes his team has a good chance to be competitive this season.
“The kids have a really good attitude and are excited about it with the new coaching staff and everything,” he said. “They're working hard, (and) they all have a really good attitude.
“ ... We have some talent. I've been out of high school soccer for a few years now, so I don't know what the talent level is around (the WPIAL). But I think we're going to be competitive, just because of the attitude right now that I've seen from our players.”