Gateway boys soccer team aiming for postseason
The Gateway varsity boys soccer team finished with four victories overall and three in Section 3-AAA in 2013, but a three-game stretch to close the campaign gave the returning Gators players a boost as they headed into the offseason.
Gateway was 2-0-1 in that stretch with a 1-0 win over section rival Plum, a 2-2 tie against Penn-Trafford and a 7-1 rout of playoff-bound Class A power Monessen.
With several starters and other letter winners back from last year and a goal of being one of the three teams from the section to make the playoffs, Duda said the team has put forth a positive attitude in all aspects of its preparation for the season.
“You can see it in their work ethic,” Duda said.
“Everybody understands what we're doing, and they want to do whatever they can to get the job done.”
Duda said the team came into preseason camp pretty fit and ready to go. Cup soccer training and games, as well as camps and offseason workouts, Duda said, contributed to that high level of fitness.
“We had tough conditioning workouts. We sent them to a camp at Cal U and some in-house camps. Richard Costanzo, who is now an assistant coach at Army and formerly of the Riverhounds, did a camp with us through his Pittsburgh Soccer Academy. We did a lot of work in the offseason and in preseason camp to better everything that we could.”
Seniors Chris Conti, Jared Jenkins, Kevin Fitchwell and Joe Klonicki are all back after each scored a team-leading four goals last year.
Klonicki is expected to move back to defense with senior Sam Zeik, also a returning starter.
Junior Anthony Scalise also figures into the defensive scheme.
There are 40 players on the varsity and JV rosters, and, Duda said, midfield is the deepest position.
Fitchwell, Jenkins, seniors Nate Cain and Sam Seroky and junior Danny Snyder form the nucleus of the midfield.
“They are an experienced group,” Duda said.
Seroky hopes to stay healthy this season after missing several weeks of action last year with a concussion.
Conti and junior Andy Thorsen are back on the varsity squad and are hoping to be scoring threats this season.
“Chris is a pretty versatile player,” Duda said. “He can play everywhere on the field. There are scenarios where he can go to different positions.”
Duda said players such as sophomore Cole Gongloff, who played as a freshman at Pittsburgh Central Catholic, and fellow sophomores Quinton Adams and Marcelo Pomiecko, have a good chance to be in the mix for varsity playing time.
Duda said freshman Nicholas Snyder is in the mix as well.
Three juniors — Max Herman, Sean Cook and Shane Seager — have battled with freshman Sam Meshanko to see who will replace the graduated Matt Shapiro at goalkeeper.
Gateway was slated to scrimmage Norwin and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic on Tuesday, and the Gators open their season Friday at 5 p.m. at Hampton.
“We're still working on some things as far as the lineup is concerned, and we will probably use the Hampton game to figure some things out,” Duda said.
Fox Chapel and Central Catholic shared the Section 3 title last year with 11-1 records. Allderdice also made the playoffs at 5-6-1.
Central Catholic and Allderdice were moved out of the section, and Franklin Regional and Kiski Area, both playoff teams last year in Section 1, were moved in.
Gateway, Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional and Kiski join Penn Hills, Plum and Woodland Hills in the section for the 2014 season.
“We saw that Central Catholic and Allderdice were leaving the section and maybe things would work out for us,” Duda said.
“Then we saw we picked up Franklin Regional and Kiski Area. It was a give-and-take type thing. It's going to be a tight race this year. We've made strides the last couple of seasons. We just have to push that much harder to get ourselves into playoff contention this year.”