Zeleznik has high hopes for Southmoreland soccer
It's thought that a key to any success the Southmoreland boys soccer team may have this year could depend on the numbers posted by senior forward Luke Zeleznik.
After all, Zeleznik tallied about 20 goals in 2012, has started since his sophomore year and is being counted on for lofty numbers again.
But Zeleznik, who has played soccer since the age of 4, feels others will also play a key role for a team that has its sights set on the postseason.
During a recent practice Zeleznik, talked with excitement about the upcoming campaign, especially the sheer numbers that will be wearing Southmoreland soccer uniforms this season. Thirty players tried out for the squad this year, much more than the previous season.
“We're working hard,” Zeleznik said. “There's a lot of dedication. We had lots of kids come out this year. It's exciting.”
Even when asked about his personal goals Zeleznik, a team captain, speaks of his teammates.
“(I just want) to get the team where they need to be,” he said. “Obviously, I'd like to score as much as I can, get as many assists as I can, help the team out, just get us where we need to be.”
Where Zeleznik feels the team needs to be is the postseason and it wouldn't hurt if this squad went father than any Southmoreland team has ever gone on the soccer field, which would be a berth in the WPIAL championship game.
Zeleznik feels first-year coach Chris Hixson can help to bring success to the Scotties on the soccer field.
“He really wants to win. I love that,” he said. “He's pushing all of us because he wants to win just as much as us.”
Hixson returns the praise when speaking of Zeleznik.
“He's a smart player, he's gifted, knows his role on the field,” Hixson said. “He's the guy we're going to go to to finish most of our goals. A lot of our goals go through him. He's motivated mentally this year. He's more prepared than he has been in the past. Sometimes in the past mentally, he let it get away from him. This year, he looks more composed.”
Zeleznik — who stands 6 feet, 1 inch — first started kicking the soccer ball at a very early age, gaining an affinity for the sport from his uncle.
He also plays tennis at Southmoreland, but soccer is the sport he prefers and hopes to play at the collegiate level.
“You have to be such an athlete,” Zeleznik explained about soccer. “It has a great level of respect. Tennis, I started a little later. Soccer always been my favorite sport to do.”
His coach thinks he can play at the next level.
“He definitely has college ability,” Hixson said. “I don't believe this will be his last season of soccer. His skills are there, it's just a matter of mentally staying focused on the field. He sometimes lets the other team get to him a little bit. He's already a good soccer player, but he can border on being a great soccer player once he's mentally gets himself proposed. If he doesn't play at college, it's his choice. There will definitely be offers for him to play college soccer.”
However, there's a high school soccer season first, one that has Zeleznik quite optimistic.
“I think we really want to prove to people that we can reach our goals like winning sections, if we can keep our dedication,” he said. “A lot more kids showed up early for workouts. We got a lot more exercise. I think we want it more this year. We've been playing together for a long time. We can kind of have more chemistry. It's a physical section, we know what we're up against. We just have to play and do what's right.”
Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.