Jeannette boys soccer looking to build on, not relive, last season’s success

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022 | 7:52 PM


“Move on” is a two-word mantra around the Jeannette boys soccer team these days.

The much-improved, ready-to-contend Jeannette boys soccer team, that is.

The Jayhawks are playing up voluntarily this season, in Class 2A, to increase competition and play with more public school teams.

Last year was fun — an 11-6 record and a first-round loss to eventual WPIAL and PIAA champion Winchester Thurston — but it’s all about the present now. What have you done for me lately?

“We’ve made straight progress,” senior center back Deyton Conrad said. “We’re trying to live up to last year’s team, but we’re also moving on trying to do what we can with this year. Five of us (seniors) won’t be here next year.”

Coach Art Cicero is proud of what his team did last year: The Jayhawks made the WPIAL playoffs for the first time.

“But we’re moving on,” Cicero said. “That’s in the past. I have been around this game long enough to have a never-know mentality, and I want our guys to know anything can happen. You can’t just expect to make the playoffs again.”

The team still talks about certain highlights from last year and how they fared against better teams.

“Again … moving on,” Cicero said. “None of that matters now.”

The coach also has been fairly pleased with how the team has started this year: a 3-2 record, including the program’s first tournament title. Jeannette won the Clash at the Coliseum at South Allegheny with a pair of wins against Southmoreland and Derry.

Now, the team wants a signature win in section to show it truly has arrived.

“We have gone against teams with 32 guys, and we have our 15,” Cicero said. “There’s no doubt we can hang at this level. I think the guys are trusting each other more and are more of a tight-knit group. You win based on trust.”

Jeannette is in an Alle-Kiski Valley-centric Section 2-2A with many new teams, including Shady Side Academy, Deer Lakes, Knoch, Greensburg Salem, Derry and Freeport.

The Jayhawks, whose other win came against Greensburg Salem, 6-1, have had nine players record at least one assist in the first four games. Greensburg Salem dropped from 3A to 2A.

Standout junior Jordan Taylor, who has 12 goals this season and 84 for his career, and junior Austin Emery, who had an eight-point game (three goals, five assists) against Derry, have powered the lineup.

One thing Jeannette will have trouble moving on from is the loss of Emery, who injured his calf in a 3-1 loss to Knoch and could be out several weeks. Sophomore Stone Markham and junior Ryan Ritson are expected to split duties to compensate for Emery’s absence.

Cicero said a number of players have complemented the play of Taylor and Emery, including Conrad, sophomore Jeremiah Davis, junior Jared Vincent and sophomore Jorel Taylor.

Senior goalkeeper Mitchell Steele III brings experience to the cage front and has played well despite bouncing between football practices and games, where he is a position player and kicker.

Steele recently assisted a goal when he punted the ball deep, and Taylor punched in a strike.

“We feel like this is the team that can get it done,” Conrad said. “We have some new guys this year, and we’re trying to help them along and get everybody good. I feel like we’re playing better as a team. Last year, we were a kick-and-chase team. Now we’re making more passes to get better shots.”

Jeannette doesn’t use robust cup formations and language, but it does rely on a physical style of play within the framework of a simplified shape.

“They want to outwork you,” said assistant coach Bobby Tanyer, a former Jeannette standout player. “They don’t talk it. They walk it.”

Taylor had five goals each against Southmoreland and Derry. Conrad, the backup goalie, made five saves in goal and also scored a goal in the Southmoreland win.

Taylor had a hat trick and two assists, and Steele made six saves in the Greensburg Salem victory.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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