First-year Leechburg boys soccer shows improvement throughout season

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019 | 8:12 PM


The first year of the Leechburg boys soccer program started with a win and ended with a win.

Everything in between those two victories was a crucial part in the growing process of a young program, and Leechburg coach Brad Walker is happy with the success that his team had this season.

“If you look at our schedule, we thought we could compete with pretty much seven or eight teams,” Walker said. “We finished with six wins, so we only lost one that we thought we could compete in. Other than that, I thought we did very well.”

The Blue Devils finished with an overall record of 6-11-1 and finished 3-10-1 in Section 2-AA, topping Valley twice and Derry once, 4-3 in double overtime. They also tied Derry earlier in the season. In nonconference action, Leechburg defeated Carrick and also beat Ellwood City twice.

The team took its lumps, too. Leechburg lost eight games by five goals or more and got shut out nine times. For a team that started eight freshmen, Walker is excited about the future.

“I thought we competed well, and we had our high and low points,” Walker said. “I mean, we got 10-runned by Deer Lakes, and we know we’re going to have those moments. But our high moments, we competed very well against Freeport. We competed very well against Mt. Pleasant, so it was just the ebbs and flows of a young season. But I think it went well.

Ashton Redmond, Jake Schuffert and Jake Mull have led that young corps of freshmen. Redmond and Schuffert held down the middle of the field, and Mull was dangerous up front.

Before this season, the trio never really played together because of the co-op between Apollo-Ridge and Leechburg. Mull goes to Apollo-Ridge, Redmond goes to Leechburg and Schuffert is entering his first year at Leechburg, but they meshed right away.

“They didn’t know each other before this year, and they almost jelled instantaneously,” Walker said. “So once we figured out how they liked to play and what their tendencies were, they started to jell and click. It just took a few games.”

Toward the end of the season, things started to come together for the Blue Devils. They stitched together two wins in a row against Valley and then Carrick. After losses to Deer Lakes and Burrell, they pulled out victory over Derry in double overtime.

“I think that almost made our season because we had been working so hard,” Walker said. “It was their senior night. They (Derry) came out and out played us, but we found a way to win. Us being young and finding those ways to win now, it’s just a matter of time before we mature as a whole team.”

Now, with its first season in the books, Leechburg will look toward the offseason in order to improve for Year 2.

“We had a couple kids that had never played organized soccer before,” Walker said. “So we went through some growing pains of teaching them the theory and then the skills. Then the skills got slowly better, so now that we have an offseason, the skills are going to progress into the next year.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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