By: Bobby Bootay
Led by many new faces, the Seton LaSalle boys soccer team had some surprising success, this season, after facing immense adversity. “No team in the WPIAL faced more adversity than the Rebels,” said Sophomore Daniel Myers. Myers started for the Rebels this season. Before the 2019 season began, the soccer team lost three starters, and were introduced to a new coach, Nick Balzer. These changes, many thought, were sure to prevent the Rebels from having any success this season, but that was not the case.
The Rebels’ starting eleven was a good mix of all ages, including many players with little to no varsity experience. To put things in perspective, only five starters started the previous year; Senior defender Tyler Stacks, Senior midfielder Ethan Gardner, Junior midfielder TJ Cherry, Junior midfielder Anthony Newman, and Sophomore defender Bobby Bootay.
First year starters included; Senior goalie Chuck Vojtecky, Senior defender Louie Maola, Junior midfielder Reno Butelli, Junior midfielder Zachary Cicco, Sophomore striker Kevin Bian, and Sophomore midfielder Daniel Myers.
The most interesting story out of this group would have to be Kevin Bian, a foreign exchange student from China. “I had a lot of fun this year,” Bian said, “I am going to miss it.” This inexperienced group had to face a very tough section, featuring Brentwood, Chartiers-Houston, and Bishop Canevin. The team, knowing this, had to put in extra work.
The season opened up poorly for the Rebels. They got killed by one of their many foes, WInchester Thurston, 4-0. “The game really shaped our season,” said Junior TJ Cherry.
After that game, the Rebels only lost one other game to a team in their classification. After a few non-section games, the Rebels picked up on their section play. The Rebels had great success. They beat Monneson (5-2,4-1), Bentworth (1-0,4-1), and California (7-1,6-0) twice. They beat Chartiers-Houston once, and then tied them the second time. They played very tight with their arch rivals Bishop Canevin, and tied them twice, including a 2-2 thriller at home. Lastly, they lost to Brentwood 2-1 the first time they met. The second time the met, the Rebels won 4-3 in a dramatic fashion to clinch the section title.
In the second game against Brentwood, the Rebels went up early 2-0. Though, the Brentwood attack was too much for the Rebels to handle, and Brentwood tied it 2-2 before the half. The second half was very intense. Both teams went back and forth on the attack, but the Rebels managed to prevail. Courtesy of Zach Cicco on a very composed goal, the Rebels went up 3-2 with roughly ten minutes left. The Rebels were able to hold of Brentwood from scoring again, and they clinched the section championship.
The Rebels won their first game in the first round of WPIAL playoff 1-0 against a solid Trinity Christian team. Unfortunately, though, the Rebels fell to a very talented Carlynton team 3-1. “It was a very tough game, but the boys fought hard and I am proud of them,” said Freshman role player Lewis Kicinski.
Although their goal was to win a WPIAL championship, the Rebels had to be proud of their accomplishments considering the circumstances. The Rebels look to regroup and rebuild, to prepare for next year’s season. The bar is set very high, and the team is going to be looking for a championship!