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Ringgold booters hope to keep success rolling

Jim Ference/The Valley Independent
Ringgold's Ryan Colagiovanni (right) is one of several key returning starters for the Rams going into 2014.

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Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A year ago, during Frank Perez's first season at Ringgold as its boys soccer coach, the Rams were in a unique situation.

The team had just won a section title a year before in Class AA, and they were moved up to AAA.

And not only were they moved up to AAA, but they were moved into the annually toughest section in AAA, that being Section 4.

So how did the Rams fare?

They won the section title.

Does Perez expect similar results this year?

“I think teams looked at us last year as a AA team that moved up, so we may have caught some people off guard,” he said. “But I will not take away from the talent we had last year.

“And we still have talent. Our goal is to make the playoffs, because this section is rough. Another section title would be icing on the cake.”

Perez wasn't just talking about the strength of the section to make it sound better.

He actually researched data.

“I looked it up and between Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon, and Baldwin, they have made the playoffs almost every year,” he said. “And I am talking about back into the mid-'90s.”

One key, according to Perez, of the Rams being back-to-back section champs, is that they have plenty of big pressure experience.

“We have leaders and guys who know what it takes,” he said. “We have a lot of experience and that is a true asset.”

The experience that Perez spoke about is important considering how young the team.

“The older guys have pointed the younger ones in the right direction,” he said. “Plus we have position flexibility and that helps.”

Perez has not settled on the full starting lineup, but several players will rotate in and out.

Senior center midfielder Jeremy Perez enters his fourth season as a starter and could also see time at striker while two other seniors, striker/outside midfielder Connor Dudas and striker Nathan Patton, enter their second year as starters.

Two other seniors, Noah Brown and Roman Selby, will be in the lineup.

Three juniors have locked up starting spots in center defender Josh Briscoe, inside midfielder Ryan Colagiovanni, and goalkeeper James Snyder while sophomore Brandon Perez will start at midfield.

Still vying for starting spots include three juniors, midfielder Nick Fowkes and defenders Weston Homa and Sam Krempasky and two sophomores, defender Chris O'Connor and striker Joey Romano, will see time as well.

One player the Rams will be without is senior midfielder Devin Beck, a starter last year.

Perez said that Beck cannot play due to a health issue and, “the team is motivated.”

So what will be a major factor for the Rams to challenge for another section title and make it back to the playoffs?

“We have to score some goals but get back to playing great defense,” Perez said. “We lost our top two scorers from a year ago and they combined for 40 goals.

“We have to play defense like we did two years ago and keep teams off of the board.”

The Rams open up Aug. 31 in the Belle Vernon Area Kickoff when they face West Mifflin and then Vincentian before heading to Bethel Park Tuesday for a section huge showdown.

Won the section title, but lost 3-2 to Franklin Regional in the first round.

The Rams compete in Section 4 AAA along with Albert Gallatin, Baldwin, Bethel Park, McKeesport, Mt. Lebanon and Trinity.

Bill Hughes is a freelance writer.

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