Despite challenges, Chartiers Valley boys soccer stays in contention

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Sunday, September 24, 2023 | 11:01 AM


There have been many different obstacles the Chartiers Valley boys soccer program has faced this season, but the Colts have stayed positive as they’ve been challenged by potential roadblocks.

The Colts (3-6, 3-4) have been dealt with navigating a coaching change, renovations to their field and injuries to key players.

It all started toward the end of last school year when coach Garrett McKenzie asked Mike Blatz to step in as interim head coach. McKenzie needed to step away for the year to deal with a family matter.

Chartiers Valley then realized renovations to the stadium wouldn’t allow them to play their first home match until the end of September. The Colts have been forced to play all their games on the road and practice on other athletic fields.

Finally, Blatz has tried to navigate the proper usage of star junior forward John Krug and senior forward Angad Kohli, who’ve been recovering from injuries.

The Colts, who made their last WPIAL appearance in 2019, played their first game with their full complement of players where Blatz didn’t need to worry about managing minutes in a 5-1 win over Ambridge in Section 2-3A action on Sept. 14.

Even with the turbulence, Blatz believes the transition has gone smoothly.

“The biggest transition for me is understanding the high school game since it’s different from club. I’ve tried to implement a style of play, which takes time,” Blatz said.

“I think we are progressively getting better in their understanding of the system and style of play we are playing.”

Krug and Kohli have scored five goals each in the three wins for the Colts. Krug recorded the last two goals in a 3-2 overtime win over West Allegheny in section play Aug. 29. He recorded a hat trick in the win over Ambridge.

Kohli had a hat trick in the 4-1 section win over Blackhawk on Sept. 5 and scored a goal against West Allegheny and Ambridge.

“John is a very talented player. It’s not a secret to anybody who plays against Chartiers Valley or against him. The team in itself is more than John Krug. Our identity keeps evolving beyond that,” Blatz said.

“The emphasis from the beginning of the season has been on the team mentality. It’s the next-man-up mentality. We talk about structure function. Whatever structure we play, everyone has a role, and you’re expected to do that role within the team.”

The Colts have received strong play by others, including senior defender Max McGinnis and junior midfielders Josh Walker and Xavier Mwaura. McGinnis, a team captain, has been labeled as the coach on the field by Blatz.

Chartiers Valley, which has scored 14 goals this season, has been shutout in four games.

After a 3-0 loss to South Fayette on Sept. 19, the Colts won’t play another game until Saturday (Sept. 30), their first home game against Blackhawk.

As the Colts won’t need to get on a yellow bus for the rest of the regular season, Blatz hopes the team keeps the proper mindset as they try to grab one of the final playoff spots.

“We have been focused on the positive and having fun and working hard,” he said. “The results will fall where they may. You may dominate play but still lose 1-0. The emphasis has been on enjoying each other.”

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