Shady Side Academy finds motivation in dropping regular-season finale
TribLIVE Sports Videos
As Deer Lakes' fans ran onto the soccer field, Shady Side Academy senior Chinedu Okoroafor went through the handshake line, walked to the locker room and started to fume following the Indians' 2-1 loss to the Lancers at Highmark Stadium last Thursday.
“It made my blood boil, but it also made me realize that while we may be good, we're not perfect,” Okoroafor said. “We sat in the locker room for 10 minutes, and nobody said a word.”
While the loss ruined Shady Side's shot at a perfect section season, the Indians are hoping it serves as a tuneup with the WPIAL playoffs approaching.
“It was a wake-up call,” said Evan Brazinski, who, like Okoroafor, is a senior midfielder and one of the team's captains along with senior defender Dan Marous.
“That Deer Lakes game had a playoff atmosphere.”
Which Shady Side (12-3, 11-1) didn't see much of last season thanks to a 3-2 loss in overtime to Indiana, a game in which coach James Meara's team blew a two-goal lead with 10 minutes go.
With all but one starter back, Shady Side Academy has perfected Meara's uptempo system, one that emphasizes possessing the ball and creating plenty of offensive chances, especially early.
“If we get a goal up, we're a tough team to beat,” Meara said. “If teams have to attack us, it leaves a lot of space for our creative players.”
Brazinski leads the Indians with eight goals and 10 assists. Mike Concordia, who's actually more of a lacrosse player, is someone Meara affectionately calls “a nuisance” and has been rewarded with eight goals and four assists.
Okoroafor and sophomore Matt Rytel have seven goals apiece. Sophomore midfielder Gray Garrard is someone who Meara said “has the potential to unlock a defense at any time,” something he's done to the tune of six assists.
“At the end of the day, if you don't have the ball, you can't do much,” Okoroafor said. “By the end of chasing us around for 80 minutes, teams are dead tired. That opens the field up for us.”
One of the things Shady Side Academy has done well this season is applying pressure from the start — and it's something the Indians didn't do against Deer Lakes.
After giving up a goal within the first 10 minutes, Shady Side battled back. But it obviously wasn't enough as Deer Lakes finished the upset.
“We were overconfident, and it came back to bite us,” Okoroafor said.
One of the things Shady Side Academy took away was correcting its defensive shape, Okoroafor said. Also communicating more so defenders are not marking the same forwards, something that happened against the Lancers.
“We walked in the locker room, and you could hear them celebrating,” Brazinski said. “Everybody was sitting there, taking it all in. It was a big motivator.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.