Kiski Area boys soccer team taking strides toward what it hopes will be a favorable playoff seed

Tuesday, October 5, 2021 | 9:08 AM

Missions to Mars had not been successful for the Kiski Area boys soccer team in recent years.

The last three times the Cavaliers had played at Mars Athletic Complex, two against the Fightin’ Planets and a playoff game, they were unable to score.

That changed Sept. 21.

The Cavaliers trailed 2-0 at halftime, but after a halftime message from coach Sean Arnold, they responded by scoring four goals and walking away with a 4-2 victory.

It was a hurdle cleared for Kiski Area, which firmly planted itself in second place in the standings, right on the heels of Hampton. A top-two spot in the section is something the Cavaliers covet, and that was part Arnold’s message at halftime.

“I reminded them that over the past two years we had underperformed in the playoffs and got a seed that we didn’t want because we didn’t perform well in the section,” Arnold said. “Over the past few years, we had been third in the section, and we needed to win that game so we didn’t end up in the same spot. That got them thinking, and they came out and played really well for 40 minutes. They took it to Mars and scored four goals.”

Part of what has made Kiski Area successful this year is diverse goal scoring, with 13 players scoring so far this season.

That showed against Mars with four players providing the four goals. Even keeper Maddox Anderson got in on the fun, scoring on a free kick from midfield after the ball took a high hop in the box over the Mars keeper. Owen Zimmerman, Anders Bordoy and Campbell Curry also scored in the Mars win.

Entering a match Saturday with Armstrong, Zimmerman led the team with nine goals, Bordoy had seven, Nathaniel Coleman had six and Curry had four.

In recent years Arnold said it had been a struggle for his team to score consistently, and it relied too much on one player for scoring. Many of the current players have played varsity for multiple years, which has allowed them a comfort level and expanded the creativity on the field, opening up more avenues for goals.

“The last three years we’ve been using the same formation and style of play, and the starters are primarily juniors and seniors, so they’ve been in the system for a while,” Arnold said.

“They understand what we expect as coaches, and they are confident. That is helping us get the ball into the net with multiple goal scorers.”

In Kiski Area’s quest for a better seed this year, finishing second or better in the section is crucial, but another resume builder might have come in the first game of the year. The Cavaliers lost to West Allegheny, 2-0, on opening day, but that’s been one of the best results against the Indians this year.

West Allegheny, which is the top team in the Trib HSSN Class 3A rankings, has scored three or more goals against every other team. The only other time they won by only two goals was against South Fayette, a 3-1 victory.

The biggest resume builders lie ahead, however.

The Cavaliers have rematches with Hampton, Oct. 7 and Mars four days later. Hampton won the first meeting with Kiski Area, 3-0, on Sept. 18. Those two matches could go a long way toward Kiski Area being a top 5 team in this year’s Class 3A bracket.

“We get (Mars) at home this time, but that won’t make it any easier,” Arnold said. “The boys know how we need to play against them, and they just have to show up and play their game.”

“Mars will come in here wanting to get a result back against us, so we need to be prepared for that and it’s my job to get them prepared. With Hampton it’s always been a close match between us dating back a few years. It’s usually a one-goal game or an overtime game. They play a pretty unique style and after seeing them earlier this year I feel like our boys have worked towards figuring out how to play against it. That’s going to be a game where we need to get a result if we want to have any chance at a section championship.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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