South Allegheny boys soccer starts hot, seeks more
In defense of the South Allegheny boys soccer team, it's not always about a shutout. It's about getting the win.
South Allegheny (6-1-1), with three shutouts this season, opened a stretch of four games in six days on Monday with a 3-0 win against visiting Brentwood.
“The goal is to go farther than we did last year,” South Allegheny coach Dean Vickers said.
The Gladiators qualified for the WPIAL Class A playoffs in 2012 but were eliminated in a first-round loss to Bishop Canevin. Last season started much like 2013 for South Allegheny, which settled for a 9-9 record after winning its first seven regular-season games.
It was a vast improvement, though, after the Gladiators struggled in Class AA in 2011, finishing with a 1-16 mark.
“The years we've been in Class A, we've done well,” Vickers said. “We've been bouncing back and forth between Class A and Class AA because our enrollment is on the fence. Right now, we're playing as a team. I'm very proud of this group. It's been wonderful.”
South Allegheny's lone loss had been at Winchester Thurston in a Section 1-A game Sept. 10. The Gladiators were shut out, 2-0, but it was a defensive struggle like so many other outings this year.
The South Allegheny defense is playing like “a well-oiled machine,” according to senior defender Tyler Forrester.
“We're like brothers back there,” he said. “The whole team is like a family. We've grown up from last year. After we got off to that hot start, we didn't really realize what it takes to play at a high level for the entire season. We learned a lot from that.”
South Allegheny's veteran leadership includes eight returning starters on a roster totaling 26 players. Forrester is joined on the back line by seniors Tyler Ellwood and Anthony Lewis and sophomore Danny Bowling. The goalkeeper is three-year starter Adam Myers, a junior.
On offense, senior forward Jake Thieret had scored nine of South Allegheny's 19 goals through seven games.
“We've been able to put the ball in the net for the most part, but I still go back to our defense,” Vickers said. “It is very strong. It's not just one individual player that is carrying us. It's everybody. We're starting to gel together as a team, and the guys are pumped up.”
While Forrester is proud of the defense's prime role in South Allegheny's success so far, he's not worried about the unit bending, at times.
That's natural, he said.
“It's good to have a shutout,” Forrester said, “but we're just a team trying to get that next win. It's a workmanlike attitude. We'll take a win any way we can get it.”