Trip to boy soccer playoffs remains West Shamokin's top goal
While West Shamokin's football players were waking up Saturday after a season-opening win, the Wolves' boys soccer team was getting one of its own.
West Shamokin started the season with a 3-1 nonsection win at Kittanning, the Wolves' first win over the Wildcats in more than a decade of playing their Armstrong School District neighbors.
Though the win does nothing toward the Wolves reaching the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2005, it's a positive start for a group that hopes to finish in the top half of Section 2-A.
“I'm not sure what to expect, but we should compete in our section,” said West Shamokin coach Jon Minteer Sr., who took over this season from his son, Jon. “I'm not saying first or second, but at least third and competing for the playoffs.”
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for the Wolves to overcome is their roster size. West Shamokin has just 15 varsity players, but if the team can avoid injury, Minteer thinks they have the ability to do well.
“With only 15 players total, our guys are conditioned to play the whole 80 minutes,” Minteer said. “Our team really plays well as a team. They pass well and work well as a group, and we haven't really had that in the years I've been here.”
Three senior midfielders — Zane Clowser, D.J. Hough and Brandon Schamberg — and a senior goalkeeper, Ryan Myers, are the veterans on Minteer's squad and are expected to be the team's leaders.
Clowser got on the scoresheet in the opener, as did two younger players, junior Jake Hough and sophomore Josh Davis, both of whom were a part of last year's varsity squad.
The most encouraging sight for Minteer in the opening game was the way his players linked play together, perhaps in large part because of the experience in the midfield.
“We try to drum into them not to hog the ball and not to dribble too much,” Minteer said. “I think the guys realize it works when they play as a team.”
Minteer said having a small roster helps his team's chemistry; they know they all will be called upon in game situations. He also credits his assistant coach, West Shamokin alum Scott Davis, for getting involved with drills in practice.
The Wolves now have over a week between games. The team next plays Monday at Jeannette before starting section play at home Sept. 10, but Minteer hopes his group can maintain the strong play it showed in its season opener.
“We have good communication, and that always helps,” Minteer said. “My defensive captain is always yelling, the guys are talking to each other, and that's what we want.”