High-scoring Jeannette boys continue hot streak with victory over Greensburg Salem

Thursday, September 21, 2023 | 11:38 PM

The highest-scoring team in WPIAL boys soccer isn’t going to slow down until the throttle burns out.

Or until it leaves a lasting impression.

Scoring a ton of goals is Jeannette’s forte so far this season.

The surging Jayhawks are up to 81 goals after a 5-1 victory over Greensburg Salem in a Section 2-2A game Thursday night at McKee Stadium.

“This is possibly the best (soccer) team at Jeannette ever,” senior midfielder Austin Emery said. “If we’re on a scoring streak, that probably means we’re on a winning streak. And that means we can go farther in the playoffs. That is what we want; WPIAL title and states.”

Emery and senior standout Jordan Taylor, the WPIAL’s individual goals leader with 35 — he recently was named the state player of the week by United Soccer Coaches/MaxPreps — each scored twice in the latest win.

Senior Jared Vincent opened the scoring after Greensburg Salem (3-7, 2-6) popped in an early score by senior Jonas Harkcom to get the Jayhawks’ attention.

Emery’s first score came on a penalty kick to give the Jayhawks the lead for good in the 13th minute.

Jeannette (7-3, 5-3) added four more scores and controlled play after a slightly tense opening five minutes to post its sixth win in seven games.

Golden Lions’ senior goalkeeper Nick Heinnickel faced 18 shots and made 11 saves.

“In the Deer Lakes game, we got behind and never recovered,” Jayhawks first-year coach Steve Pons said. “Against Shady Side Academy, we were down and came back to tie it 2-2 before losing. Tonight, we didn’t lose our composure and the guys came together as a team.”

Jeannette has scored 10 or more goals four times, in wins over Greensburg Salem (11-0), Valley (21-0), Derry (14-0), and Leechburg (16-0).

Once this team gets on a roll, it is a challenge to stop it. Center backs have to direct traffic because so many attackers always seem to be on the move.

“We have tried to slow it down against teams, but we have 13 players and they all want to score,” Pons said. “Only one hasn’t. I have never been one to run up the score. My seniors want to win. I can’t tell them to stop playing soccer.

“Believe me, we want to play the game the right way.”

Once the team on the other side of blowouts, Jeannette appears to have reached a point where it is ahead of much of its competition. Now, it wants to churn out wins against upper-echelon teams and perennial contenders.

“My freshman year, I remember we couldn’t even connect on a pass,” said Emery, who has 18 goals and 18 assists. He recently topped 100 career assists. “Now, we’re moving the ball, hitting our 1-2s and scoring a lot.

“It’s not just me and Jordan, (Nos.) 22 and 20. It’s a lot of guys who can beat you.”

Taylor, who had an assist to Vincent (10 goals), scored on a breakaway in the 23rd minute to give the Jayhawks a 3-1 lead.

His final score was a leaning, leg-dragging strike with four minutes to play for career goal No. 146.

“I’m not very surprised. We always knew as a team that our attack is one of our strongest attributes,” Taylor said of the team’s scoring barrage. “We are really good on the attack because, when we get the ball, we can quickly transition with high speed before most teams can set up. “We have a very fast front line which most teams can’t deal with at times, especially if they lose the ball in a wrong area.”

Jeannette is tied with Knoch for third place in the section as it chases a third straight playoff appearance.

Freshman keeper Noah Clary had five saves.

Pons said his backers’ job is to cause chaos and allow the Jayhawks’ strikers to go. Multiple attackers push forward and close in from the wings.

“The WPIAL is notorious for over-the-top soccer,” Pons said. “We’re an attacking team, and that is what works for us. It’s OK to overlap up top.

“I knew we would be able to score. The idea was to worry about defense later.”

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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