Bishop Canevin boys soccer wanting to go further in 2013
The Bishop Canevin boys soccer team experienced a resurgence in 2012.
After back-to-back seasons where the team failed to reach the postseason, the Crusaders finished with a 14-4-2 record – claiming the Section 3-A title and getting a 4-0 win over South Allegheny in the Class A playoffs along the way.
Coach Jim Bull admitted to being a bit surprised by the successful season – only because it was a year earlier than he imagined.
“We knew we were going to probably make the playoffs,” Bull said. “We felt the natural progression after two down years was playoffs last year and a section title this year. It just so happened we put ourselves in position to win it and we took advantage.
“Our goal this year it to win the section title and be one of the top three teams in the WPIAL to get a state playoff berth.”
To do so, the Crusaders will need to find a way to replace eight graduates from the 2012 squad, the biggest of which may be goalie Anthony Gioia. He was a catalyst for the team's 11 shutouts last season.
Stepping into the position will be junior Tony Tresky as well as sophomore Zack Balabek. In a situation not seen in recent seasons at Bishop Canevin, neither player has much experience in front of the net.
Tresky took up the position last season as a back up while Balabek is in his first year in the role.
“We are doing a lot of on the job training,” Bull said. “We are still working on the finer points of the position but both kids are hyper athletic.
“One is a baseball player the other is a basketball player. We expect them to meet the standard.”
The defense returns one experienced player in junior Nick Burton. Other defenders will include seniors Casey Hutzler and Eric Shorthouse.
“While we will have senior leadership, it won't necessarily be the years of starting experience that we are maybe used to at those positions,” Bull said.
The team won't be lacking on the offensive side of the field as senior Nick DiSanti and juniors Aiden Crossey and Chase Virgi return.
“Working in will be (juniors) Ross Langford and Clayton Crabbe,” Bull said. “They will be playing deeper but have the possession skills to help us build up our attack.”
Bull added that several underclassmen likely will see varsity time in 2013.
“We have freshmen stepping up and our sophomore class is solid,” Crossey said.
The Crusaders participated in the Chartiers-Houston Tournament this past week. Bishop Canevin picked up a 1-0 win over Serra Catholic, who reaced the WPIAL Class A consolation game last season.
“The experience is always good,” Shorthouse said. “Serra is always a good team. The tournament is a way for us to gauge our ability.”
If Bishop Canevin hopes to reach the postseason for a second straight season, it will need to contend with a tough Section 3-A. Bull said the team will need to battle both Carlynton and Seton-La Salle – the section's two other playoff representatives in 2012 – for positioning in the standings.
“Avonworth is always a threat,” Bull said. “Eden Christian showed individual talents in our games last season.”
Despite a tough section, Bishop Canevin is looking forward to another extended season.
The players said reaching the WPIAL playoffs last season was a great experience but also said it was a missed opportunity as they fell to Greensburg Central Catholic, 3-0, in the quarterfinals.
The team is using that loss as motivation. The Crusaders don't want to just match last season's success – they want to surpass it.
“We lost some people but I don't think it will be a problem,” DiSanti said. “We feel like we are going to win a lot of games. We know we're a good team.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.