Junior striker brings joy of scoring goals to Pine-Richland boys soccer

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Sunday, September 19, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Colin Zvejnieks’ parents told him that he has always been a runner.

So much so, they claim he learned to run before he could walk.

Needless to say Zvejnieks is energetic, and that trait comes out even more when he’s on the soccer field.

A varsity player since his freshman year, Zvejnieks is now a junior and has developed the last two years into a goal scorer as Pine-Richland’s striker.

“Soccer has had my full attention since fourth grade,” Zvejnieks said. “It makes me a different person. After scoring a goal, there’s nothing but pure joy on my face. I really don’t get that expression too often. There are aspects of leadership where you try to pick someone up. Soccer transforms all of us really. We’re all better versions of ourselves for playing.”

That look of pure joy crossed Zvejnieks’ face twice in a 2-1 win over North Allegheny. He scored both goals in the win, his first two of the young season.

The first goal came on a cross into the box that Zvijnieks received and shot against the grain towards the far post, past the keeper who was going the opposite way.

The second one came during a mêlée in the box. With bodies all around the goal, Zvejnieks found the loose ball and put it home.

Winning against North Allegheny was huge not only because it is Pine-Richland’s main rival, but also because it validated some intense offseason work. The Rams worked on creating a stronger team bond after winning four games last season.

“We have been putting in so much work in the offseason, and it was so nice to finally get a result that we had been waiting for, for so long,” Zvejnieks said. “The fact that it was NA was icing on the cake. Obviously I got the two goals, so I will get more credit, but it is hard to take credit when everyone put their heart and soul into that game.”

Zvejnieks comes from a soccer background. His mother is a former player and he considers his dad his “second coach.”

That’s led to an advanced knowledge of the game, something Jordan Wiegand saw right away when he took over the Pine-Richland boys soccer team.

Wiegand called Zvejnieks up as a freshman and though it was a challenge at first, that experience has paid off.

“Physically, I knew he’d have his struggles as a freshman, but I knew he could handle it,” Wiegand said. “Even though he was a little bit smaller, he was always aggressive. I always teach players how to use their body to manage the opponent, and he was one that grasped that early on.

“On top of that, he’s a good soccer mind. He understands the game and what we are trying to instill. He’s very versatile. I know I hype him up as a (striker), but if I asked him to go anywhere, he could do it and he’d be willing to do it. That’s a huge trait to have.”

The Rams have been working on their communication skills and that includes on passes that lead to finishing. Having seven returning starters has helped expedite the process. The Rams are on the same page, and that has them excited to see what they can do going forward.

“We’ve got to the point where it is almost nonverbal,” Zvejnieks said of the Rams’ communication. “On those goals against NA, we could see the play develop before it was even happening. I could see the ball rolling back and that my winger was going to leave the ball for me. Those goals absolutely gave me confidence. We have so much optimism within our team.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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