Carlynton boys soccer continues resurgence
The resurgence for Carlynton boys soccer is far from over.
After a lowly 1-14 record in 2011, first-year coach Charlie Dagnal led the squad to a 13-4-2 record and appearance in the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals last season.
The turnaround continued this season as the team finished the regular season 11-6 — including an 8-4 mark in Section 3-A play — to finish second.
“It has nothing to do with what I have done,” Dagnal said. “We just put our guys into position to be successful. The coaches aren't the ones playing out there. To say we have reached the playoffs my first two years is just a testament to the youth programs bringing up kids who can play.
“I don't have a magic wand that makes these kids good overnight. It speaks volumes about the community.”
While last year's team had six seniors out to prove they were better than a one-win team, the 2013 squad has a bit of a youth movement afoot. The team had only one starting senior most of the season — center forward Jeff Henke — so it had to rely on several underclassmen for production.
“We relied on the seniors a lot last season,” sophomore mid/forward Emanual Burton said. “They wanted to get better than 1-14, so they had a lot of energy. This year we want to prove it just wasn't the seniors who made last year's team good.”
The Cougars opened the year 0-3 with losses to North Hills, McGuffey and Bishop Canevin and were outscored 12-0.
“That was my fault,” Dagnal said. “We were not prepared. We are playing a different formation now. Our team now would beat that team 5-0.”
Since then, the team has gone 11-3 with two of the losses coming to Section 3-A champ and one of the top seeds in the playoffs Seton-La Salle. The Cougars outscored opponents 65-17 during the run.
“The Bishop Canevin loss was a wake-up call,” junior mid/forward Logan Shuler said. “We scored a lot more goals in the second half of the season after we switched the formation.”
The team has used a 3-4-3 formation that allows Carlynton to apply heavy pressure on opponents and use turnovers to create scoring opportunities.
The team got a bit of good news when senior defender Brock Hoffman was cleared to return to action after battling a lower body injury. Added experience can only help the team as it tries to get more than a single win in the playoffs.
Last season, the Cougars defeated Vincentian Academy, 2-1, in a shootout in the first round before falling to Sewickley Academy, 4-0, in the quarterfinals.
“I think the one win made us hungry,” junior defender Ted Ford said. “We don't just want to one win game and be satisfied. We would like to go deeper.”
Their coach fully believes the team has the ability to make a run in the playoffs. It would just be another step in the right direction for the program.
“We are dangerous, plain and simple,” Dagnal said. “When we go forward with the ball, we are dangerous. We have had success against every team we have played, even when we lost 5-0 or 6-0.
“The playoffs a lot of times come down to if you are fortunate enough to get good bounces. That can be the difference if you play late into October or not.”
Carlynton played Peters Township in the opening round of the Class A playoffs earlier this week. Results were unavailable at press time.