Program-best season brings several accolades for Connellsville boys soccer
The Connellsville boys soccer team's 9-9 season in 2013 may not seem like that big of a deal. However, a closer look reveals that this season was, in many ways, the best in program history.
The Connellsville boys soccer program began in 1997, and after 16 consecutive losing campaigns, the Falcons finally earned their first .500 season. Connellsville's previous high was six victories, set in 2007.
The improvement of the program was not lost on Section 1-AAA coaches, and they honored Connellsville coach Jason Rice as co-Coach of the Year with Norwin's Scott Schuchert. Norwin won the section championship.
“It's a good honor, and it's good to see them recognize how well we did and recognize how well we played this season,” Rice said. “It's about how well the team did, and not really about me.”
Connellsville freshman Jacob Rice and sophomore Alex Peperak were also honored. Each were named to the section's Finest 15.
Jacob Rice played primarily as a midfielder; he finished with seven goals and 13 assists. His 20 points led the team.
“I think it was a good season for us, and it was good for me being the only freshman in the group (on the Finest 15),” Jacob Rice said. “I think we will build on this and soon, we will be playoff contenders.”
Peperak played midfielder and striker. He finished second on the team with 15 points, registering 11 goals and four assists. Peperak was pleased to be chosen to the Finest 15 and is excited about the program.
“It was a big step for us,” Peperak said. “It's a big deal. I think (in the future) we can definitely make the playoffs and go far.”
Jason Rice said many players made valuable contributions this season.
“Starting with our seniors, it's kind of been like a six-year program because I've been with them since junior high,” Jason Rice said, noting that he spent two years as Connellsville Junior High coach before becoming the high school coach four years ago. “We've worked together since then, and it's all starting to come together.”
Despite finishing sixth in Section 1-AAA, Connellsville had three section victories. It was the first time Connellsville had won a section match since 2007. It also marked the highest section win total in a single season in the program's history.
“That's pretty big, not only because we won those three games, but if you look at it, a lot of the games we played were very close,” Jason Rice said, noting a 2-1 loss to Norwin early in the season as a prime example of the Falcons being able to compete with top-tier teams in the section.
Connellsville lost only one game by more than five goals, and six of its nine victories were shutouts.
“The .500 record is a pretty big step,” Jason Rice said. “It was something we were shooting for this year. Just looking at the youth in the program, it looks like this is a good building step for us.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at email@example.com.