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Mt. Pleasant boys soccer hopes fast start leads to playoff berth

| Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 1:26 a.m.

Floyd Snyder talks about defense all the time.

From the looks of it, his team has been listening.

Mt. Pleasant's boys soccer team has started the season 3-1, with two of the wins coming in Section 1-AA against Indiana and East Allegheny.

“We stress defense and recovering behind the ball,” Snyder said.

“We have six or seven guys who think they're forwards, but we've stressed defense to them, and it turned into nine goals in our first two games. We've been working on our counterattack a lot. If we can continue to do this, we're going to have a very successful year.”

The Vikings' success started last season when the team finished by winning four of its last five games.

Mt. Pleasant opened this season with a 6-1 nonsection win over Greensburg Central Catholic before a hard-fought, 3-2 Section 1-AA win over Indiana.

“The guys showed a lot of heart and a lot of pride,” Snyder said. “We were down 2-1 at halftime, and things weren't going our way, but we came together and played really hard the last 40 minutes. Beating Indiana definitely helps us. One of our goals was to make the playoffs and finish with a winning record. The last few seasons have been kind of down, but we have had young teams.”

The Vikings lost to Valley, 2-1, in overtime.

Last season, Mt. Pleasant started five sophomores and a freshman, and the inexperience was evident as the Vikings started the season with just one win in 11 games. But in the final third of the season, the younger players started to come around, and wins started becoming more frequent. One of those younger players was keeper Robbie Bailey, now a sophomore.

“He's been working with a goaltending coach, and he's a lot more technically sound,” Snyder said. “He was very raw last year but also very athletic. He made some nice saves but had some bad angles and gave up some goals. This season, Robbie's also stepped it up in the leadership department.”

Also back are senior defenders Billy Grost and Tyler Kolar, who bring experience and leadership to the defense.

“The team has a lot of respect for these guys,” Snyder said. “They play hard and physical.”

Snyder said he is expecting junior midfielder Zachary D'Amico to have a big season, and, so far, D'Amico is right on track after scoring the game-winning goal against Indiana.

“Zach's a really good ballhandler,” Snyder said.

“He just loves the game, and he really plays hard.”

After last year's finish and this season's start, Snyder believes his team has a good shot at a WPIAL playoff berth.

“This is kind of what we hoped for,” Snyder said. “We thought that even though we were young last year, we could learn with our mistakes. We did that and stayed together. Instead of tearing them apart it pulled them together. We saw that against Indiana. They fought hard for each other and for the school. I'm hoping that can carry them through the rest of the season.”

Dave Stofcheck is a freelance writer.

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