Fox Chapel boys soccer expects to be battle-tested come playoff time

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | 6:34 PM


There is a buzz surrounding the Fox Chapel boys soccer team.

With several players back who earned postseason all-star recognition among a sizable group of returning talent, the Foxes hope to make a move up the ladder, contend for a section championship and be in the mix for a WPIAL Class AAAA crown.

“We think this team can go far, and the same goal is Highmark (Stadium),” said senior forward Zane Ingram, a two-time All-WPIAL selection, referring to the WPIAL finals site. “But we know it has to be one game at a time.”

Last year, Fox Chapel finished tied with North Allegheny for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Foxes’ Section 1-AAAA debut. The teams were 8-5-1 in section play, and they split their season series, so both qualified for the playoffs.

As the No. 13 seed, the Foxes saw their season come to a close with a 4-1 loss to Canon-McMillan in the first round.

“The section changed, and we looked at all the really good teams and looked at ourselves and said, ‘Can we do this?,’ ” said senior defender David Shin, an all-section honorable mention pick in 2018.

“We really had to grind out the last couple of games, and it came down to the smallest things to get into the playoffs. Even though we lost in the first round, we played well, and that was big for us coming into this season.”

Ingram scored 11 goals to lead the team last season. Six were game-winners, and he added nine assists.

Foxes coach Erik Ingram, in his 14th year, said he’s pleased there again will be several candidates to put the ball in the back of the net. They include returning players such as senior Tommy Tsai, junior Nate Lazzara and sophomore Eli Yofan.

“The way we attack, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had some defenders getting on the score sheet, too,” he said.

Tsai received second-team all-section recognition in the midfield last year.

“There is a lot of excitement for this season,” Tsai said. “There is a nice mix of returning and younger talent, and everyone has been working hard. We’re looking forward to getting started. We’re ready to go as far as we can.”

Senior defender Josh Miller also returns after earning his second All-WPIAL selection. He and Ingram were the only two juniors among a collection of seniors on last year’s all-section first team.

The Foxes got a chance to see where they stood after the first week of camp with Tuesday’s scrimmage against Upper St. Clair. Coach Ingram said he is pleased with the opportunity to look at a number of players in different situations.

“I love playing against Upper St. Clair,” he said. “They play a nice style of soccer and have a lot of solid players year-in and year-out. They give us a game where we see who can do it and who can’t at a top level because they are a top-shelf team.”

Coach Ingram likes what he’s seen from returning junior goalkeeper Clayton Humbert.

“Save after save, he’s a solid player in net for us,” he said. “He very dependable, and we’re looking for him to have a great year for us.”

Coach Ingram said the section title is up for grabs among several quality contenders.

Seneca Valley is the defending section and WPIAL champion. The Raiders topped Norwin in the Class AAAA title game at Highmark Stadium and reached the PIAA semifinals.

Pine-Richland and Butler made it to the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“I think there are legitimately four teams that could win the section,” coach Ingram said. “If we can play to our potential, we can win the section. If not, we will definitely be prepared to head into the playoffs because it is so brutal night-in and night-out.”

Fox Chapel has been a part of the WPIAL playoffs every year since 2000. The top four teams from the section qualify for the postseason.

The Foxes scrimmage Aug. 27 at Chartiers Valley before opening their season Sept. 3 at home with Pine-Richland.

“The team chemistry is fantastic, and the kids are playing a nice style of soccer,” coach Ingram said.

“Hopefully, it translates into positive results.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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