Serra soccer team looking to build on 2012 success
The first WPIAL section championship was a blast for the Serra Catholic boys soccer team despite seeing its 2012 playoff run stall in the Class A semifinals round.
Leading goal scorer Mike Mercea is gone, but the Eagles weren't expecting a letdown when their season began over the weekend at the Chartiers-Houston Tournament.
“The team feels very confident, but there's a lot of work to do,” Serra Catholic coach Don Sabol said.
While Mercea and Josh Lohr have departed — the two combined for 40 goals in 2012 — Serra Catholic (1-1) returns its second-leading scorer in senior forward Tyler Grebur, who logged three goals Sunday in a 5-0 victory over Chartiers-Houston.
“He's a great player, offensively,” Sabol said. “He's smart. He's big and strong. He's not selfish.”
Grebur accepts the challenge of leading a team that he says can match or better last year's 15-4-1 record, which included a pair of playoff losses to end the season.
“If we keep our minds straight and don't worry about last year, we're going to be fine,” said Grebur, who scored 16 goals as a junior in 2012. “We've got great guys here. We're just looking to get some better chemistry with this team because it's a different team than last year's.”
With chemistry being a work in progress, the Eagles at the moment must rely on the leadership presence of Grebur (scoring) and fellow seniors, midfielder Nick Likar (playmaking) and Grant Taylor (defending), for continued success.
Sabol agrees that discovering chemistry with this bunch is a priority to help make up for the notable loss of offense from last year's team.
“We're strong down the middle with Nick Likar. He's our quarterback. He sets things up,” Sabol said. “We're trying to find outside help. No one's really stepped up yet.”
Serra Catholic is coming off a strong year that led to a share of the Section 4-A championship with Greensburg Central Catholic, and Sabol senses a passionate desire for more success as his sixth season as coach is under way.
He knows the Eagles are somewhat in a rebuilding mode, though he is quick to point out that they're not alone.
“A lot of teams have lost players, just like us,” he said. “We're trying to get it together. Our team has been progressively getting better each year. This is a tough section, but we've been able to hold our own.”
Grebur, too, is eager for another postseason run, and said there's no thought of a letdown.
“If we start to go through struggles, we're not going to worry,” he said. “If we find ourselves down, we'll have to experiment with things and try to pull together.
“Going deep in the playoffs last year was fun, but we can't be satisfied with just that. Losing out at a chance to play for a championship taught us something. You can't take any teams for granted.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.