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Connellsville boys soccer focused on section win this year

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Jason Rice is in his fourth season as coach of the Connellsville boys soccer team. Rice will be assisted by Paul Emanuel and Jacob Dunston.

Top high school sports
Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, 1:31 a.m.
 

When Connellsville boys soccer coach Jason Rice analyzes the 2013 Falcons, he sees a good-news, bad-news situation.

First, the bad news.

“Our numbers are a little lower than usual,” Rice said. “We are at about 15 or 16 varsity kids, so that hurts us a little bit.”

But there is good news, as well.

“Talent-wise, I think this is one of the better squads that we've had,” Rice said. “This year, I think we are a good possession team. We're not finding the goal a lot, but we're not giving up much.”

The Falcons started the season with two strong wins in the Fayette County Coaches Association Tournament. However, Connellsville's main goal is to be more competitive in Section 1-AAA.

“We haven't won a section game in five or six years, so that's our first goal,” Rice said. “We want to try to be competitive with the big guns.”

Connellsville lost five starters to graduation, including all-section goalie Alexander Guie. The job of filling Guie's position belongs to senior Lawrence Becker.

“His instincts are very good and he comes up with big saves,” Rice said of Becker.

Junior defender Doug Brighton and senior midfielder Nick Puskar will play a role in keeping the goals to a minimum. Both are team captains. Sophomore Alex Peperak will help bolster the midfield, along with a number of young players.

Offensively, the Falcons feature senior striker Jason Burkus and freshman midfielder Jacob Rice.

Midfielders Kolbe Cunningham and Ian Pieczynski, striker Riley McGinnis and defender Tim Hensel, all seniors, will provide Connellsville with experience and much-needed depth.

“We all bring different things to the field,” Puskar said. “It's going to be a tough section, but it's my senior year and with the team we have, we have the possibility of going far. Playoffs are the goal.”

The Falcons return to the field Tuesday at Latrobe.

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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