Serra Catholic boys soccer looks to take next step
The only team separating Serra Catholic boys soccer from the WPIAL finals is the one that ended its season a year ago.
The Eagles play Sewickley Academy at 8 p.m. Monday in the Class A playoffs at West Allegheny with hopes the result will not repeat the 3-0 defeat they suffered in the consolation finals last year.
“We'd like to get them back, but we need to focus on what we have to do this year,” coach Don Sabol said. “We're satisfied that we won both our (playoff games) so far, but I feel like we outplayed our opponents, but there were lapses where we were outplayed.”
The Eagles will need to avoid lapses to stay competitive with one of the more dominant teams in Class A.
Sewickley Academy finished its regular season 15-3 and won the Section 5-A title with a 10-0 record. The Panthers boast a backline that posted 11 shutouts thanks to senior defender Jack Matten. The team's leading goal scorers are senior striker J.P. Bowell and senior forward Anthony Stinson.
“They are a very good team,” Sabol said. “We have our work cut out for us. I'm sure we can give them a good game.
“We are capable, but we're definitely going to have to play our best.”
Sabol hopes his team will be able to match the Panthers.
Senior Tyler Grebur — who has scored 28 goals this season and holds the school-record of 73 — has been the leader on and off the field. Sabol said Grebur's calming presence will be a key.
Midfielders Nick Likar and Nick Andrews are expected to control the flow of the game and find openings to fuel the offense.
Serra Catholic's back end has been solid thanks to the play of Sam Almeter, Anthony Rosso, Grant Taylor and Zack Bauerle. With goalkeeper Anthony Koval as the last line of defense, Sabol said he expects another stingy performance from his group.
“This year our team is more team-oriented than in the past,” Sabol said. “Even with Tyler scoring all those goals, we know not one player is going to win or lose this game.
“It'll be a total team effort from all 11 players on the field.”
Sabol said it a matter of sticking to the strategies that he has preached all season.
“In the past we've tried to mark a particular person, but a really good player will get away from you,” he said. “All that does is weaken yourself, and you take yourself out of a game like that.”
Like they've done all season, the Eagles will come together and look to play its best game collectively and take it one step further than last year.
“They're anxious to get out there and play,” Sabol said. “We're going to focus on position and possessing the ball and try to give them a good game.
Brian Graham is a freelance writer.