After historic season, Kiski Area boys soccer ready to reload

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Monday, November 8, 2021 | 10:31 AM


Sean Arnold had high hopes for his Kiski Area boys soccer team this year.

After an impressive season in 2020, the Cavaliers finished 2021 with a record of 16-4, including a 12-2 mark in Section 1-3A. The 16 victories were the most in Kiski’s history.

“The expectations were high, and I think they fulfilled those expectations,” said Arnold, who finished his eighth season as coach. “But, obviously, we wanted to win a championship, and that was one of our goals.”

Kiski won a playoff game for the first time since 2018, beating Gateway, 5-1, in the Class 3A opening round. But defensively, the Cavaliers tripped up in the quarterfinals, as Franklin Regional topped them, 6-4.

“In the playoffs, in the last couple of years, it seems like we’ve underperformed,” Arnold said. “So we were trying to get over that hump.

“We played as per the script, but we just struggled for about 20 minutes in the middle. That’s part of the underperforming that we need to try to improve on for next year.”

What did the Cavaliers in was its defense of set pieces. Franklin Regional scored twice on corners and two more times on set pieces.

“When you give up four of those in a playoff game, you can’t expect to win,” Arnold added. “You take those away, and it’s an even game. The boys have to stay engaged in the game and understand the situation, especially in the playoffs.”

With the season over, Kiski Area looks ahead to the offseason and building for another successful fall.

But first, the team will bid farewell to seven seniors.

“It’s a strong group,” Arnold said. “One was my leading goal scorer in Owen Zimmerman. Two were team captains and six were starters. So there’s some experience there. They brought a lot of leadership on and off the field.”

The Cavaliers, however, will return a healthy amount of juniors, including section player of the year Anders Bordoy, who was the team’s leader in assists and second in goals.

“We’ve got good center core leadership with Nathaniel Coleman and our goalkeeper, Maddox Anderson,” Arnold said. “Plus Ethan Beck, he’s a solid defender. You always want to stay strong down the center of the field, and those guys are back next year.”

Bordoy, Zimmerman, Coleman and Anderson were all-section picks. Beck was an honorable mention awardee.

“The other coaches voted on our players,” Arnold said. “They realized these guys were quality players. That solidifies that this team was special. And we have some stats to back that up.”

They sure do. Kiski racked up 89 goals, the most in program history.

“It wasn’t just one person scoring. We had 14 or 15 different goal scorers,” Arnold said. “We scored multiple ways with different players. We’re pretty solid throughout the field.”

But the Cavaliers also posted eight clean sheets, tying another program record.

“We possessed the ball pretty well,” Arnold added. “We were able to keep the ball from the other team and that’s one thing we try to do.”

Arnold’s main point of emphasis to his players was to turn mistakes into opportunities.

“We talk a lot about intensity level,” he said. “If you give the ball away in our attacking third, don’t look at it as a bad thing, look at it as a good thing. You can win the ball back in their attacking third. You have to look at the positive stuff and not focus on the negative. That’s one thing they did well.”

In his 14 years with Kiski Area, Arnold has seen some special individual talents come and go. And while this year, might not have marquee names, Arnold said it did have something more important.

“It’s been more about team camaraderie,” he said. “We have a good nucleus of above-average players who understand the game.

“This team was good, it was special. And hopefully next year these juniors can lead the team like these seniors did.”

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