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Lackluster start doesn't linger long for Seneca Valley boys soccer team

Louis Raggiunti | Cranberry Journal
Seneca Valley goalie Colton Smith made some fantastic saves against Pine-Richland.

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players to watch

Jason Burkus

Connellsville, senior, forward

Burkus scored three times in leading Connellsville to a 7-0 win over Yough last week.

Christian Snyder

Riverview, junior, midfield

Snyder scored his 10th of the season in the 60th minute to lead Riverview to a 1-0 victory over Aquinas last week.

Logan Schuler

Carlynton, junior, forward

Schuler, who scored five times in a 5-0 win over North Catholic, has been a catalyst with 17 goals.

Nick Sodini

Canon-McMillan, soph., forward

He tallied a hat trick last week in a 4-0 win over Ambridge in Section 5-AAA.

Top 5 rankings

Class AAA

1. Upper St. Clair 12-0-1

2. Bethel Park 12-2-1

3. Central Catholic 12-1-1

4. Canon-McMillan 11-1-2

5. Peters Township 10-2-1

Class AA

1. West Allegheny 13-0-1

2. South Park 13-0-0

3. Shady Side Academy 11-2-0

4. Blackhawk 11-1-1

5. South Fayette 13-1-1

Class A

1. Sewickley Academy 9-3-0

2. Seton-La Salle 10-1-1

3. Vincentian 10-2-3

4. Beaver County Christian 9-4-0

5. OLSH 9-2-1

­— Not including Monday's results

best of the week

Boys soccerPeters Twp. at Canon-Mac7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Not only are these two bitter rivals, but the No. 4 Big Macs and No. 5 Indians are fighting to keep pace in Section 5. Both have one section loss.

Top high school sports
By Jason Mackey
Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 10:54 p.m.

Colton Smith figured the Seneca Valley boys soccer team's own kickoff tournament would serve as a barometer for the season.

So much for that.

Despite a loss to Baldwin and a tie against Norwin later settled (unsuccessfully) in penalty kicks, the Raiders' eight new starters quickly improved, enough for an 11-1-1 record and a 9-0 mark to lead Section 2-AAA.

“When we tied and lost, it didn't look good,” said Smith, a senior goalkeeper. “Then we came back and kept winning and winning, the young guys started working together, and we picked it up.”

All that winning had Seneca Valley in position to clinch the outright section title going into last night's game against North Allegheny. It would be the fourth in the past six years for the Raiders and the first since 2011.

Baldwin, which scored the game-winner with about 90 seconds left, has been the only team to top the Raiders in regulation, and it proved pivotal.

“We learned a lot about not letting down,” Seneca Valley coach George Williams said. “I know it's cliché, but you can't take breaks. That really does ring true.”

Seneca Valley learned how to better defend through balls, Williams said. So far the message has been received: Smith has seven shutouts, and the Raiders haven't allowed more than one goal in a game since Norwin.

“After that tournament, I think we all realized that it wasn't going to be as easy as we might have thought,” senior forward Jared Myers said. “We buckled down and decided that we're not going to have that type of season.”

Myers has led the way with seven goals and nine assists for Seneca Valley, which lost Tribune-Review Player of the Year Ryan Vilella from last year's group.

Vilella helped the Raiders go 14-5-1 and reach the quarterfinals.

Matt Saluga, a sophomore midfielder, has five goals and six assists. Fellow sophomore midfielder T.J. Turley has three goals and four assists, and senior forward Brad Banks has contributed four goals. Sophomore midfielder Connor McCandless has added four goals off the bench.

Smith has been supported by the back line of Joe DeAugustino, senior Kalin DiPaolo, junior Danny Wallowicz and sophomore Adam Mascio.

“They're always in good position,” Smith said of his defense. “Say someone splits our defenders, we always have someone covering. They're all doing their jobs.”

Which didn't always happen last season — mostly because they weren't together all that much.

Williams estimated that because of injuries and performance, Seneca Valley started a different lineup every game.

Not so this time around.

“We've had the same starting lineup the majority of the season,” Smith said. “When you have the same lineup, you get other each other's tendencies down and play better as a unit.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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