Carlynton boys soccer wins section title, exceeds coach’s expectations

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Thursday, October 10, 2019 | 7:55 PM


There is a lot of soccer talk in the Showman household. Understandable, considering Nick Showman coaches the Carlynton boys team.

During a recent conversation with his wife, Lauren, Showman said he believed there was something special about the 2019 Cougars. They have done nothing to make him think otherwise.

With its 5-2 win over Eden Christian on Thursday, Oct. 10, Carlynton finished 10-2 in Section 3-A, 14-2 overall, and earned the section title. It was the Cougars’ ninth win in a row.

“There’s just something about this team that’s different,” Showman said. “They really do act like a family. This is the most complete team we’ve had at Carlynton.”

Added junior midfielder Demetrius Howe: “We knew we had a lot of good talent coming in, some new players and a lot returning from last year. … This season hasn’t gone absolutely perfectly, but we definitely have clicked very well.”

The Cougars appeared to click early on, opening section play with a 2-1 win over perennial playoff team Springdale.

But that was followed by a disappointing loss at Riverview.

That was the proverbial wake-up call, and the Cougars lost only once over the next month. Along the way, they made it a season sweep of Springdale with a 1-0 win Sept. 21 and avenged the loss to Riverview in a big way, 7-3 on Sept. 24.

“You never want to lose games,” Howe said. “But in the long run, maybe for the mental aspect of our game, it’s a good thing. It’s better that we go into the playoffs knowing that anybody can beat us and not take anybody for granted.”

Scoring hasn’t been a problem, with senior striker Carnel Kerr leading the way with 38 goals through Oct. 10. Howe contributed 17 and sophomore striker Tarek Alhussain 14.

Many of the players, Showman said, have improved since last season. Howe, he said, might have made the biggest leap.

Though always talented, Howe seemed skittish about trying to make an aggressive play, Showman said. This season, he raised his intensity.

“He has been a starter since his freshman year. He’s always been a little bit more passive, not taking the game into his own hands,” Showman said. “I never thought I would name him a captain, but I did because he showed a different level.”

The offense hasn’t been the only unit carrying the Cougars toward what could become the best season in program history. Defensively, they haven’t given up more than three goals in a game, and eight of their 14 victories came via shutout.

During the nine-match winning streak, Carlynton gave up seven goals.

Junior center back Ryon Fagan and senior keeper Nick Hunter anchor the defense. Showman called Fagan “a difference-maker” and possibly the most skilled player on the team.

The Cougars seem to have all the proper pieces in place. But the slate gets wiped clean Oct. 17 when the WPIAL playoffs open.

As successful as Carlynton was in the regular season, Showman said his group is keenly aware one small slip can mean the end of the road.

“We definitely have to play our game,” he said. “I think we have a tendency to let the competition dictate how we play. If we play a better team, I feel like we come out and show up. But against someone who might not have as much skill as we do, we tend to come out a little flat.”

Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, when the Showmans talk about the 2019 soccer season, the conversation likely will be overwhelmingly positive.

“The patience and maturity these kids show impresses me,” Showman said. “They definitely exceeded my expectations. I’m not going to lie.”

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