Southmoreland's Zeleznik caps season with all-star honors
When the Southmoreland boys soccer team took the field for the WPIAL playoffs this past season, one of its top stars was not on top of his game.
Senior striker Luke Zeleznik, one of the team's premiere scoring threats, was battling an illness, which later was diagnosed as mononucleosis.
Despite not feeling well, Zeleznik, a team captain, was not about to miss the most important time of the season, and he managed to help the Scotties secure a 1-0 preliminary-round victory over Beaver. Southmoreland lost to South Park, 4-0 in its next playoff game, but that didn't diminish the fact that Zeleznik left it all on the field.
“I wanted the opportunity to lead the team on through the playoffs,” Zeleznik said. “Winning a game in the playoffs was not something I was able to do in my previous high school years, and knowing this was my last chance, I was not giving up on myself or my team who worked hard for this opportunity.
“I only wish I would have been able to be 100 percent so I could have performed at my best for the team.”
Zeleznik's determination was evident, and so was his talent throughout the 2013 season. Zeleznik finished with 25 goals and seven assists to help the Scotties finish with a 13-6-1 record.
His efforts did not go unnoticed as he was named to the All-WPIAL team for 2013.
It was a nice reward for Zeleznik, especially considering the Scotties were hit with a big challenge right at the start of the season. Prior to Southmoreland's first game, Russ Grimm Field suffered extensive flooding damage, meaning the boys and girls soccer teams, as well as the football team, were forced to play all of their games away from home this year.
“Getting (All-WPIAL) meant that I achieved my personal season goal, even with all the ups and downs of the season,” Zeleznik said. “Through the loss of the stadium and my illness, it really meant a lot.”
In addition to his All-WPIAL selection, Zeleznik was chosen to play in the Class AA Western Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association All-Star event. The event features three all-star games (one for each classification) and will showcase the talents of many all-state and All-WPIAL players throughout the region.
Zeleznik will participate in the Class AA game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Moon High School Stadium.
“I was honored to be selected,” Zeleznik said. “It was a goal I wanted to reach since the end of last season, so receiving this selection was exciting and rewarding for me.”
Southmoreland coach Chris Hixson said Zeleznik's rewards are well-deserved.
“It's nice for him to be recognized,” Hixson said, noting Zeleznik worked well with several of the younger players on the Southmoreland roster. “He was a large part of our team. He worked hard, and he did his job.”
Zeleznik, who also plays tennis for Southmoreland, noted soccer always has been a big part of his life. After he graduates, he plans to attend college to study accounting and business and minor in political science. He'd like to play soccer at the next level, as well.
For now, he's looking forward to representing Southmoreland on the soccer field one last time.
“I've played soccer almost my whole life, and getting to be on the team with my friends that I grew up playing with is really special to me,” Zeleznik said. “From a young age, I would watch previous Southmoreland High School soccer teams, looking up to them. So finally getting to play for the high school was a cool experience.
I'm very proud of my team, was honored to be the captain and thankful for the coaching staff who motivated and supported us through a great season.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at email@example.com.