Interest in Penn Hills boys soccer on the rise

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Thursday, September 10, 2020 | 10:11 PM


The Penn Hills boys soccer team might not have experienced success in recent years in the win column. However, the Indians believe they’ve turned the corner as interest in the program is at its highest in recent times.

The Indians, who finished 2-7 overall and 1-13 in Section 3-AAA action last season, will drop to Class AAA and compete in Section 4. Penn Hills’ only victories came early in the season against Jeannette and Hempfield.

Penn Hills will face off against Franklin Regional, the WPIAL Class AAA champion, and Plum, which lost in the semifinals of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs last season. The Indians also will face Kiski Area and Woodland Hills, a pair of WPIAL playoff qualifiers. Section 3-AAA will also have West Mifflin, Gateway and Obama Academy.

“They need to just believe in the style of play and don’t get away from it,” coach Ryan Hankey said. “They need to continue to work every day.”

The Indians roster includes six sophomores and nine freshmen. The Indians will return sophomore midfielder Lenny Duncan, who led the team with eight goals last season. Last season, Duncan received PA Big 56 honorable mention honors.

The Indians will rely on senior defender Jonah Silverman to provide leadership for a team on the younger side that has six seniors and three juniors on the roster.

“We have a lot of younger kids that are coming up that have some skill this year,” Silverman said. “That’s a kind of a commodity that we don’t have at Penn Hills. We don’t normally get kids who are soccer players. We normally get kids who are athletes.

“During practices, I told them to keep grinding. I told them it doesn’t matter what the talk is on if we’re having a season or not but just keep working like we are. I think we’re pretty prepared for the season.”

Hankey will rely on continued contributions from senior midfielder Anthony Sciulli and senior defenders Vito Fiore and Landon Gibson.

Juniors Josh Lee, Tyler Stewart and Charlie Joe Rosemeyer are going into their third year playing varsity soccer for Hankey.

Along with Duncan, sophomores Owen Williams, Alinur Zhamaldinov and Alex Monteque will look to continue their growth with valuable playing time.

“They’ve been really locked in,” Hankey said. “This is the first offseason where I had over 20 kids come to practice regularly. It gave us a little bit of a head start on the season because in years past I would have seven to 10 kids come to practice all summer. It was a little hard to do anything, but with 20 kids coming every day, we were able to do a lot of scrimmages.

“The culture is finally there with the dedication, the accountability and commitment is there from all the players.”

Hankey will have his son, Landon, start in goal as a freshman. Midfielders Connor Lehman and Mack Byrnes and defender Jeremy Savran will look to get some playing time in their freshman year.

“They have the soccer sense and have the experience with playing Cup soccer,” Hankey said.

Hankey will get to utilize a new tool during the season as a camera was installed on the field.

He looks forward to utilizing the time to get the mental reps by reviewing film with the team during in-season practices.

“It gives us an opportunity to allow the body to take a day off but still have the soccer mind where we can watch our video and learn from the way we’re playing,” Hankey said.

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