Gateway boys soccer team eyes goal of finishing season strong
Despite being eliminated from contention for the WPIAL playoffs last week, Gateway varsity boys soccer head coach Chris Duda said his players still have the desire to end the season on a strong note.
Finishing strong, Duda said, would include taking care of business Thursday evening at home against Section 3-AAA rival Plum at Antimarino Stadium.
The varsity game is slated for 7:30 p.m., and the Gators want to avenge a 1-0 loss to the Mustangs on Sept. 21.
“The guys are really ready for this game,” Duda said.
The game on Sept. 21 marked the second year in a row Plum topped Gateway by one goal at Mustangs Stadium.
The first meeting this season will be remembered for the rain showers that persisted throughout the match.
Duda also remembers the several strong scoring chances his players had throughout the game, especially in the second half.
“Plum got one, and we just couldn't put one in the net,” Duda said.
“It was pretty wet field conditions, but both teams had to play on it. Danny (Snyder) put one just over the cross bar from the 6 (yard line) and we had a nice chance on a corner kick. Jared (Jenkins) made a nice run with the ball in the second half. We had to fight through it, but we just couldn't finish.”
In addition to the desire to get a win against Plum on Thursday, Duda said, the team is looking forward to honoring this year's senior players.
The eight seniors — goalkeeper Matt Shapiro; defensemen Nick Contestabile, Matt Davis, Rob English, Taylor Nemanic and Sam Passalinqua; and strikers Matt Reynolds and Gaurav Pandy — will be honored in a ceremony before the match.
Gateway dominated Penn Hills, 6-2, in a section match on Sept. 25, and were competitive, Duda said, against undefeated Central Catholic in a 3-1 loss on Oct. 1.
However, the Gators tasted defeat, 3-0, at the hands of Allderdice on Saturday.
That loss put them at 2-8 in section play and 2-11 overall.
Gateway was slated to play at Fox Chapel on Tuesday, and it was a match that was to conclude past the deadline for this week's edition.
Plum, who was to play Penn Hills on Tuesday, still was alive mathematically for a playoff spot at the start of the week, but at 3-7 in section, it needed a ton of help.
Of Gateway's 11 losses through Saturday, eight had come by one goal.
“The guys have been pretty frustrated,” Duda said.
“We've been in almost every game and competed hard. We've been there but just haven't had good luck at the end. We were finishing just short of where we need to be. They still want to come out and make good decisions. They are seeing the record, and they know it shouldn't be that way. They know they are better than their record.
“Despite the frustration, they are still one team and are teammates. They want to win for each other and fight for each other. It's the competitiveness they have.”
Gateway wraps up the season with two nonsection games — Saturday at 6 p.m. at Penn-Trafford and Monday at 7:30 p.m. against Monessen at Antimarino Stadium.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.