Riverview boys have title aspirations

Doug Gulasy
| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 9:39 p.m.

Riverview is getting aggressive in its pursuit of a WPIAL championship this season.

Backed by a potentially explosive offense featuring two returning all-WPIAL players, the Raiders believe they have the potential to win the first WPIAL title in school history.

And they won't be passively waiting for it to happen, either.

“We have a little bit more offensive power this year than last year, so we're going to try to attack people instead of sit back,” fifth-year coach Mickey Namey said. “(Last season) we were happy winning games 3-0 because we had our German exchange student Ludger (Oelck in goal). We kind of relied on him a little bit to keep the ball out of the net. This year, we're hoping to score four, five or six goals and force teams to score seven to beat us.”

Riverview made it to the playoffs each of the last two seasons, but both times the Raiders ran into talented, senior-laden teams.

In 2012, they lost to WPIAL runner-up Greensburg Central Catholic in the first round. Last season, they fell short against WPIAL and PIAA champion Sewickley Academy, 2-1, in the quarterfinals.

“I think something we learned last year is the result doesn't always matter as much,” senior midfielder Josh Killian said. “We made ourselves proud last year. We made everyone proud because we put up a really good game against a team that went on to win states.”

This season, Riverview will rely on the leadership of its own large class of nine seniors.

Midfielder Christian Snyder was named the WPIAL Class A Player of the Year last season, forward Cole Wilson earned all-WPIAL honors and Killian made the all-section team.

“They've all been here four years,” Namey said of the seniors. “They've been through a no-playoff season, a first-round loss, a first-round win. Each year, they're getting hungrier and hungrier.”

After losing its first four games last season, Riverview finished the regular season on an 11-0-2 run and beat Monessen in the WPIAL first round before falling to Sewickley Academy.

“I definitely think the team chemistry was not there at the beginning, but then once we started hitting two games, three games, four straight, everyone was just gelling,” Wilson said. “Everyone was playing awesome together. It was really good chemistry, and that's what helped.”

Although the Raiders relied heavily on all-section pick Oelck last season, this year they will look to Killian, Snyder and Wilson, along with freshmen Sean Abraham and Mike Komaniak, to provide goal-scoring.

“I would rather have four guys score 10 goals instead of two guys scoring 20,” Namey said. “Because when a team looks at us, I want them to not be able to say, ‘We need to mark this guy' or ‘We need to mark that guy.' I want them to say, ‘Let's hope they don't score five goals on us.' ”

Senior Evan Lesnick, junior Kyle Moore and freshman Cal Fisher will compete for time in goal, while Billy Futules, Ray Rogers and Bogden Nazaryan return as starters on defense.

Although Snyder said he believes the Raiders have championship potential, he said the team isn't getting ahead of itself.

“We're looking at a long season with a lot of games, so we can't afford to drop points anywhere,” he said. “We're looking every single game like we need three points out of it.”

Other storylines from around the A-K Valley include:

• Kiski Area moves to a new section (Section 3-AAA) with a new coach (Sean Arnold) after a shootout rules mixup cost the Cavaliers a chance at a first-round playoff victory last season.

• All-section midfielder Matt McCausland and starting goaltender Austin Barneycastle return for Deer Lakes, which made the WPIAL playoffs last season for the first time since 2003.

• Fox Chapel, a WPIAL quarterfinalist last season, moves on without sophomore forward Max Silberg, currently playing in Philadelphia.

• Defending Section 1-AA champion Burrell must replace all-WPIAL forward Tom Spagnolo, who scored 21 goals. All-section midfielder Joey Cox returns for the Buccaneers.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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