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South Fayette's Coyne getting his kicks in two sports

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | for the Bridgeville Area News
Brian Coyne (left) battles Seton-La Salle's Noah Kaib for possession during South Fayette's 4-0 win over the Rebels on Sept. 30 at Highmark Stadium.

Brian Coyne said he wanted to have 25 goals by the end of the year for the South Fayette boys soccer team.

At the end of the regular season and with a playoff run ahead of him, the junior is at 21 – nearly a third of the Lions' 65 goals during their 14-2-2 season.

“If someone told me before the season Brian would have 21 goals at this point, I would have asked ‘where do I sign?',” South Fayette soccer coach Rob Eldridge said. “You gave got to remember (Coyne) didn't score a lion's share of those goals in the games against Carrick or Obama (Academy). He has scored some really important goals for us.”

Coyne has been a major part of a turnaround for South Fayette boys soccer. After a three-win season in 2011, the Lions roared back with a 14-6-1 campaign last season that saw South Fayette reach the WPIAL Class AA consolation game.

“We looked good on paper my freshman season,” Coyne said. “But last year we were able to build more chemistry. We had more time to bond. We have a lot of expectations this year. We want to challenge for a WPIAL and state title.”

Coyne said he worked on penalty kicks and 1-on-1 moves heading into the season. But his greatest growth might have been a little bit of selfishness.

“He has developed a goal-scoring mentality,” Eldridge said. “If you look at players who consistently score goals, they have to be tenacious. You have to be selfish as a goal scorer. You usually don't like that from a coaching stand point but you learn to accept it.”

Coyne's athletic output doesn't stop on the soccer field as he handles extra points, field goals and kickoffs for the school's undefeated football team.

“When I was younger I liked to kick the football around the yard,” Coyne said. “So in eighth grade I went to go ask Coach (Joe) Rossi if I could try and kick for the team but he ended up asking me first.”

He made 43 extra point through the first seven games of the 2013 season along with a 41-yard field goal. He is on his way to matching his sophomore season that saw him connect on 70 extra points and four field goals.

His kickoffs improved after he averaged 40.8 yards per kick in 2012 and is up to 46.8 this season.

“The form itself is very similar,” Coyne said. “You use the same part of the foot. But there is some difference between kicking a soccer ball and a football. The follow through is different. It does help as a kicker to have soccer experience.”

While some coaches may be concerned with a top athlete splitting time between two sports, Eldridge embraces cooperation between the programs.

“(Rossi) and I have a good relationship,” Eldridge said. “Since I have been here, one of my guys has kicked for him. Joe is funny. He already is looking at my middle school team to see if we have a future kicker for him.”

Coyne's ability to balance soccer, football and school has impressed Eldridge. The Lions coach wrote a letter of recommendation for Coyne and was able to list the junior's off-the-field accomplishments – Honor Society, 4.1 GPA and volunteer work in the community – all signs of a bright future for Coyne on and off the field.

“He is an impressive young man,” Eldridge said. “I don't know if I can see him playing forward at a higher level. But he could be a wide player. He has gradually increased his soccer I.Q. and ability to score.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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