Competition heating up for Pine-Richland boys soccer

Sunday, August 13, 2017 | 11:00 PM

Last season, the Pine-Richland boys soccer team finished third in Section 1-4A, which was just enough to clinch a WPIAL playoff berth. From there, the Rams took their opportunity and ran with it.

Pine-Richland didn't win the WPIAL, but the Rams defeated Upper St. Clair, 1-0, in the third-place consolation to earn a spot in the PIAA tournament.

The experience gained from last season's playoff run should prove beneficial this year.

Coach Jon Conner said, however, the Rams need to start from scratch to equal or improve upon last season's success.

“They gained some valuable game experience, and they understand it's all about hard work. Good players are good because they continue to work the hardest on every team that they're on,” Conner said. “That's the mindset of where we are. If we come in to the season telling ourselves that we're going to be good, then we're going to lose some games.

“The mindset is, come in and put our nose to the grindstone, bring the lunch pail to practice every day, and let's get at it.”

With the regular season approaching, Conner said the emphasis at practice is on conditioning and competing.

Pine-Richland returns several talented players in seniors Vittorio Orsini and Gabe Schoone, and juniors Greg Shulkosky and Brian McCarthy at midfield, which should create in-house competition for starting positions.

The Rams have time to sort out the lineup and starting positions. The most important thing for Conner is his players are ready before they start the season Sept. 5 at Upper St. Clair.

“Traditionally, in the summer, we have an organized conditioning program for the team,” Conner said. “We get a great turnout. We'll probably get upwards of 60 or 65 kids that come out for the team this year.

“The competition for positions on the team is pretty tough, so you better have something in your tool bag ready when you get to practice because people are all fighting for the same spot.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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