By: Ryan Kendrick
The 2016 Seton LaSalle boys soccer team hopes to achieve their goal of making it to the PIAA State Championship Game, after starting the year 12-0 (10-0) and being ranked #1 on msasports.com for the third week in a row. The offense is lead by seniors Christopher Stack and Zachary Straub, and juniors Darryl Daniels and Michael Allen. Combined, these players have 41 goals and 20 assists. Other key starters include midfielders Luke Mallon and Kellen Krebs, defenders Ryan Kendrick, Oliver Glitz, Christopher Sigg, and Jared Capozza, and goalkeeper Jake Gigliotti. Stack, Straub, Allen, Mallon, Krebs, Kendrick, and Capozza are all returning starters from the 2016 WPIAL Championship team. Dating back to October 13, 2015, the Rebels are 20-0-1 in their last 21 games.
The soccer team has a lot of underclassmen this year. Sophomores and Freshmen have 26 combined starts this season. Freshman John Pete and Sophomores Kyle Killen and Sigg account for 13 of those starts, and often play a vital role in the defense. Capozza and Head Coach Ryan Kelly both feel that this is the team’s weakest link, but it can easily be fixed with more experience. “The team’s biggest challenge is communicating and acclimating [to] a lot of new freshman and sophomores who are now full-time varsity guys,” according to Capozza.
On the other side of the story, the team’s “experience, offensive ability, and hunger to build off of last year’s defeat” in the PIAA State Quarterfinals are leading the Rebels’ way this season, according to Kelly. It is the first time the team has had an 11-0 record since the 2008 WPIAL and PIAA State Championship team. In addition, the Senior class has the chance to win the most section games in school history and be the second class to win the section title all 4 years.
With the most recent WPIAL and PIAA realignments, the Rebels are facing new teams that are over one and a half hours away. “The new section has taken away many established rivalries and familiarity associated with teams like Eden Christian, Avonworth, and Carlynton. We must establish new rivalries, but it will take time. There is a different brand of soccer played by these new teams that we’re less familiar with,” according to Coach Kelly. The boys now play in the 4th section of the WPIAL Class 1A. The section has familiar opponents such as Bishop Canevin, Chartiers-Houston, and Brentwood, but the Rebels will also face new foes; Bentworth, Monessen, Bethlehem Center, and California.
Senior Captain Mallon says “Although we wish to accomplish a lot this year, nothing is guaranteed. The ability to work hard and work together is what pushed us to win WPIAL’s last year. If we wish to repeat, or go farther, that same mindset is needed.”
That seems to be the motto for the whole team, who often hear the quote from Coach Kelly, “Hard work beats skill when skill doesn’t work hard.”
With the season reaching its halfway point, the Rebels hope to continue the success and legacy of the soccer program at Seton LaSalle. Over the last 15 years, they have an 88.8% win percentage in section, 11 section championships, 6 WPIAL Championships, and 2 PIAA Championships.