Carlynton soccer team is returning strong defense
Charlie Dagnal didn't know what to expect heading into his first season guiding the Carlynton boys soccer team.
The former Cougars goalie was hired in July 2012 and inherited a program that recorded one win the season prior. But by the end of the year, the squad recorded 13 wins and a 2-1 shootout win over Vincentian Academy in the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
“I couldn't ask for anything more,” Dagnal said. “All I knew was it was my high school and I wanted to come in and do what I could. We lost six seniors from that team.
“But once this squad gets more experience during the season, I think we will be a pleasant surprise.”
One of the biggest blows from graduations was goalkeeper Phil Meighan. The team will look to junior Josh Stasik and sophomore Troy Beglinger to fill the void. Both offer good size for a goalie but lack any true experience.
While the team lacks experience in goal, the defense in front of the net should be strong with three of the four players who got a taste of the playoffs returning with junior Ted Ford and sophomores Adam Corner and Tarik Isak.
“We have some simple mistakes we need to get rid of,” Dagnal said. “After we iron out the little details, we will be a hard team to score on.”
The Carlynton offense will receive a boost from the return of junior Logan Schuler, who finished 2012 with 12 goals, and sophomore Emanual Burton, who had eight. While they will lead to production, Dagnal wants to see the scoring spread out.
“I would like to have eight or nine guys finish with four or five goals,” Dagnal said. “I think that shows depth and guys can come in and get a goal when we need it. I won't be surprised if some guys separate themselves as the season moves along.”
Dagnal said that many sophomores and several freshmen will be worked into the rotation. Part of the young player's development has come from a full offseason with the coaching staff, including workouts and pick up games.
“I feel like the change in staffs from two years ago helped everyone,” Schuler said. “It made everyone want to be on the team and play soccer instead of just seeing it as a casual sport. It made us want to win.”
The team has only three seniors on the roster – forward Trevor Murray and midfielders Jeff Henke and Brock Hoffman. While the team isn't looking beyond the 2013 season, the Cougars are expecting big things down the road.
“Starting games before you are a junior or senior definitely helps you get accustomed to the game,” Burton said. “If you don't play until your junior year, you won't know what its like until you are a senior then it's too late.”
The team got a test in the opening week of the season as it participated in the Canon-McMillan Tournament. The Cougars fell to North Hills, 5-0, in the opening game of the event that also featured the host Big Macs and McGuffey.
While the squad faced teams from high classifications, it is exactly the type of opponents Dagnal wants to play.
“Better teams can exploit things,” Dagnal said. “It can help magnify some issues we may have that we may not notice when our competition is more at our level. Great competition makes us raise our game.”
The early tests on the field will be pivotal as Section 3-AA offers stiff competition from Avonworth, Bishop Canevin and Seton-La Salle. If things go as planned though, the Cougars should be having another exciting October.
“Playoffs should be the goal,” Ford said. “We should be expected to go further than last season.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.