Despite graduation losses, Sewickley Academy boys soccer off to fast start

Sunday, September 24, 2023 | 11:01 AM

The 2023 season would be considered a time to rebuild for most soccer programs after losing nine seniors to graduation.

Not so at Sewickley Academy.

The Panthers, minus co-section player of the year Adin Zorn and three other graduated all-section players — midfielders Hudson Colletti, Michael DiSantis and Lucas Mendoca — were undefeated through eight games this season and halfway through their section schedule.

Sewickley was 5-0-1 in Section 1-A and 7-0-1 overall in games played through Sept. 19.

The Panthers, under new coach Joel Stewart, defeated Beaver County Christian, 3-1; South Side, 5-1; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 2-1; Neshannock, 2-0; and Freedom, 5-0, in section play, along with Freeport, 2-1; and Bishop Canevin, 4-1, in nonsection games. Sewickley Academy also tied Eden Christian, 2-2, in its Section 1-A opener.

Sewickley was ahead of OLSH, which was 5-1, and Eden Christian (4-1-1) at the end of the first half of section play. On the season, the Panthers had allowed just one goal in six of their games and posted two shutouts.

Sewickley Academy was ranked second in Class A by Trib HSSN for the week ending Sept. 17, and was No. 6 in the state in its class, according to the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association.

Stewart, assisted by Jeff Myers, has taken over as field boss for former SA coach Alessandro Moreira and inherited a team led by a strong senior class.

Senior players in 2023 consist of Andrew Caridad, Jayden Garcia, Jose Maldonado, Jackson Quigley, Jordan Smith, Michael Woo and Cooper Wentz.

Wentz is a third-year starter at goalkeeper for the Panthers. He has been playing soccer, specifically as a goalie, since he was 5 years old.

“We as a team have been pleased with our performance so far,” Wentz said. “I think we are a super young team with a really high ceiling, and we are excited to see how good we can be.

“Our expectations, per usual, are the perform to the Sewickley Academy soccer team standards, which are to win and give 100% every time we play.”

The junior class is represented by Andrew Colletti, Preston Henzel, Dov Abrahim Kanner and William Straka; sophomores consist of Chase D’Antonio, Nick Day, Luca Peluso, Finn Wentz and Blake Wilmot.

Colletti serves a dual role, manning either a midfield or striker position. Colletti, like his teammate Cooper Wentz, has positive vibes about this season.

“Our performance as a team has been exceptional due to our strong sense of community and our commitment to improvement,” Colletti said. “After losing so many talented seniors (to graduation) this year, we have had to make some adjustments and get to know each other again, but I believe we have been very successful.

“My expectations for the season are mostly based on the success of the team so far, considering our team chemistry, skill and overall performance. I would love to go far in the playoffs, and I think our team has it in us.”

Colletti’s older brother Hudson was a starter at midfield for the Panthers last year. He currently is attending Pomona College in Southern California where he is studying economics.

“I applied to higher-tier schools and it ultimately came down to here or Carnegie Mellon,” he said via text, “but I chose to adventure out to a new place and the beautiful weather.”

Some of SA’s top freshman prospects include Umberto Bonham, Cooper Jackson and Benedict Terrell.

The Panthers’ starting lineup early in the season was comprised of Cooper Wentz (GK), Wilmot and Peluso at center back, Smith and Straka at outside back, Colletti and Finn Wentz at center midfield, Caridad and Garcia at outside midfield, and D’Antonio and Quigley at striker.

The lineup consists of five seniors, two juniors and four sophomores.

“I’d like to thank my coaches, teammates and extremely committed fans for the support and encouragement so far this season,” Colletti said.

Sewickley has not experienced a losing season in boys soccer since 2010, and has won two PIAA and two WPIAL titles since then. SA was a PIAA finalist five times and finished first or second in section play all 12 years, winning the section crown eight times.

The Panthers have reeled in 17 section titles in program history, won seven WPIAL and four PIAA championships, and have been PIAA finalists eight times.

Zorn, a Penn State baseball recruit, was one of nine seniors on last year’s squad, which finished 16-4, shared the section title with Eden Christian, and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals.

Sewickley has earned two section championships and two runner-up spots over the past four seasons. The Panthers were a composite 20-1-1 in section play in 2021 and 2022.


More High School Soccer Boys

The Kiski School builds on success, wins 4th straight PAISAA championship
Norwin’s Owen Christopher headlines 2023 Trib HSSN boys soccer all-stars
Quaker Valley boys add to school’s soccer legacy with WPIAL, PIAA championship appearances
Norwin notebook: Knights coach picked for all-star game
North Allegheny’s Abigail Stager, Avonworth’s Fiona Mahan earn All-America honors