Defending PIAA champion Sewickley Academy boys return 5 starters
Grueling running tests in the preseason are vital but not the most important aspect of the Sewickley Academy boys soccer team's success for senior midfielder Tommy Lasorda.
What makes the Panthers a consistent winner is the standard set by previous classes.
“It's always having guys that aren't playing looking on, seeing us succeeding and wanting to be a part of that next season,” Lasorda said. “They prepare for that all year and all summer and then are finally ready to step into that role.”
Lasorda had that moment when he didn't make varsity as a freshman and the team won WPIAL and PIAA crowns. This year, Lasorda wants to add the missing piece to his resume.
Sewickley Academy — which finished 22-3 and won the program's fourth state title last season — hasn't won a district crown since 2013.
The Panthers lost in the WPIAL semis last year and in the final the year before that.
“We've been so close to getting that title and haven't been able to get it in the past two years,” Lasorda said. “I think that's one where we all have in the back of our minds we have to get that this year to reclaim the title for us.”
Sewickley Academy returns five starters from last season's team, including Lasorda, Alex Gordon and Paul Chropek. Mike Napoleone and Ben Mulholland return on defense.
Sewickley Academy will break in Derrick Littlefield in net this season. Littlefield is the son of former Pirates general manager David Littlefield. Derrick returns after taking a few seasons off to concentrate on baseball.
The big concern for the Panthers will be generating offense.
“We could do a lot better in terms of putting the ball in the back of the net,” coach James Boone said. “I think we need to finish more, that's the name of the game. We need to be more consistent defensively and score goals. If we could do that, we'll have a good chance to make noise again.”
The Quakers look to build off a season in which they fell to Mars in the WPIAL Class AA first round after beating Thomas Jefferson in the preliminary round.
Quaker Valley finished 8-7-3 overall and 7-3-2 in section last season. Quakers coach Andrew Marshall sees potential with this group.
“I think experience of playing in big games will help,” Marshall said. “We were a young team last year and lost one senior. It's basically a group with a little more experience and age. Add in a few new players with talent.”
Quaker Valley also had a big turnout for tryouts. The Quakers kept all 50 players who tried out.
“I think our strength is our cohesiveness,” Marshall said. “It's a close group of guys that are friends that work hard together and push each other.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.