By: Chuck Bosco
Once again, Seton-La Salle’s boys ‘soccer program has ended a regular season with their sights set on playoff soccer. In fact, in the past five seasons, the Rebels have won two WPIAL final games (appearing in four) and two PIAA state final games (appearing in three).
However as this postseason begins, the team is prospering in a manner that differs from the years past. This season, the team is more well-rounded, lacking both a weak-point and a superstar. Coach Mike Thomas said, in an article for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “I think we’re probably more balanced in that we have pretty good players at every position. We have no superstar but we have some really talented soccer players.” The team does hold some notable players, such as goalkeeper Cory Smigielski, who has saved the Rebels from more than a few tough games this season. Other players making a big difference are Roman Vukmanovich, Ben Aiello, and Eric Albright. Roman leads the team with 14 goals and is the speaking captain of the squad. Ben helps lead the time on the field through his determination and hard work. Eric Albright, a sophomore, surprised the whole program with his great play this season and has definitely helped the team prosper.
Rather than a seemingly endless stream of goals, the team is winning the offensive aspect of the game through maintaining possession, building up a well formulated attack, and finishing when needed. The possession game hasn’t come easy for the time, but rather from countless hours of practice, determination, and learning each other’s tendencies.
When looking at the season, no one can argue that the anchor of the team has been the defense, and the anchor of that defense is senior marking back Michael Brust. Brust has been a leader in the back, also scoring a few goals while getting up on corner kicks. Coach Thomas describes Brust as “…a brick wall back there…” and no one can disagree. This defensive domination presented by the Rebels has won them a good deal of their games, letting up only 11 goals throughout their 16 regular season games.
The solid defense, hard work, big goals, and team work have kept the Rebels going this season and hopefully will get them through the playoffs successfully. “If we play every game like a championship game, I don’t feel like any team in the state can compete with us,” said Ben Aiello, junior captain, when asked about the coming postseason competition. Roman also agrees, saying, “It is safe to say that the tradition of successful postseasons has been realized by our team, and if we continue to work as we have been, it will be carried on this season.” This view seems to be echoed by all members in the program, and one can feel an eager anxiousness when around the team during their preparation for their upcoming matches.
Read more about expectations going into the post-season at The Post-Gazette
Read more about the WPIAL championship at The Tribune-Review
Thanks to the Buckholt family for some of our photographs.