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Geibel boys soccer team makes most of small roster

| Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 10:57 p.m.
Jason Black | Daily Courier
Geibel's Chris Martin (left) and Kyle Toth battle for the ball during a practice Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, at Geibel High School.

Thirteen has proven to be a lucky number this season for the Geibel boys soccer team.

The Gators field only 13 players, yet heading into Thursday's action the Gators were atop the Section 4-A standings.

Geibel, under coach Mike Grant, is on the verge of qualifying for the WPIAL Class A playoffs for the second time in the past six seasons.

“I've had these kids for the last few years, and we just keep working on the things that we've been doing the last few years,” Grant said.

With such a small roster, one of the biggest challenges that the Gators face is avoiding injuries. So far this year, Geibel has been fortunate enough to avoid any long-term injuries or illnesses, but that doesn't mean they've had a full complement of players every game.

“We played one game this season with just 10 players,” Grant said. “We've played other games with just one substitute. We just keep playing as a unit and trying to stay healthy.”

Through eight section games, the Gators are 6-0-2. They are 8-2-2 in their first 12 games overall. Entering Thursday's game against California, six of Geibel's wins were via shutout.

“We've played real good team defense,” Grant said. “No matter if we are defending or attacking, we do everything as a team.”

Geibel senior Patrick Teach was converted from offense to defense. Junior Tommy Kovalchuk was switched from defense to offense.

“Patrick is new to our defense this year, but there was no problem for him adjusting at all,” Grant said. “There is a defensive mindset with Patrick, and Tommy is more offensive so we moved him up front.”

Juniors Matt Mammarella and Nelson DiBiase have been strong on the back end. Sophomore goaltender Kyle Toth has also played well.

The offense also has been productive. Junior James Ewing leads the team with 14 goals. Seniors Patrick Nahhas, Neil Solan and Kyle Kozura, as well as juniors Jarek Allen, Chris Martin, Bailey McIntyre and Britt Mechling, have all contributed.

“I felt last year we could have done this, but we were on the wrong end of some games we could have won,” Grant said. “This year, the ball is bouncing our way.”

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