Effort, energy key to success for Penn Hills boys soccer
The Penn Hills boys soccer team has already matched last year’s win total in the first eight games of the season. The Indians might not be the most skilled team around, but they have made it up with energy and effort.
The Indians (2-6, 1-5) started the season on a positive note when they defeated Jeannette, 5-0, in a nonsection match on Aug. 31.
After only scoring one goal in the next three games, Penn Hills righted the ship by getting their first win against Hempfield under coach Ryan Hankey when the Indians won, 5-2, in Section 3-AAAA play Sept. 10.
“If we played like that every game, I’ll play against anybody because they weren’t getting outworked or outplayed,” Hankey said. “I want them to keep the team in the game and not make the mental mistakes. We have athletes, but we might not be the most skilled team. We should be able to compete at a high level.”
Even though the Indians have only two wins this season, Hankey has been impressed with team’s effort, especially in close losses against Connellsville and Woodland Hills.
Against Connellsville, Penn Hills was winning 1-0 at halftime but they allowed three goals in the second half as the Indians lost, 3-1, in section play Sept. 9.
After winning against Hempfield, the Indians faced Woodland Hills at home where they had a 1-0 lead with eight minutes remaining in the game. Penn Hills gave up two late goals and lost, 2-1.
“We had the feeling that we were going to win the game but it slipped through our fingers. They really poured their heart in the game,” Hankey said. “They were running on empty at the end. You have to play 80 minutes of the game. We are learning we have to play 80 minutes at a high intensity level.”
Since the Woodland Hills loss, Hankey hasn’t liked the effort given by his players in a 4-0 loss at Latrobe on Sept. 14 and a 4-1 loss at Penn-Trafford on Sept. 17.
“They were both winnable games, but the effort, motivation and energy level wasn’t there to compete and put a good performance together like the week before,” Hankey said. “The boys are up for the challenge and staying focused. There is no losing, but there is more learning. Our guys are learning what it takes to play every single day.”
Freshman Lenny Duncan has led the Indians offensively with seven goals. Junior midfielder Jonah Silverman has provided the much needed energy and physicality that Hankey has been craving for his team to show.
Hankey has been pleased by sophomore Josh Lee’s speed and ability to penetrate the opposing defense.
Even though Norwin and Plum have a stranglehold on Section 3-AAAA, Hankey believes the Indians have a chance to sneak into the playoffs if they get back to the style of play they showed in back-to-back games against Hempfield and Woodland Hills.
“I’m really trying to show the team that we’re building a culture of accountability, trust and togetherness. You can’t win one game with just one player,” Hankey said. “It has shown in practice with accountability. I’m hoping the seniors are showing the underclassmen what to do and what not to do.”