Mt. Pleasant boys soccer dominates out of the gates

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | 8:23 PM


In soccer, defense often leads to offense. But there are cases where the opposite is true.

Take Mt. Pleasant, which shut out its first four opponents by a combined score of 28-0.

“Our offense definitely is where our momentum comes from, but we have a strong defense that keeps us strong,” Vikings winger Nathan Kubasky said.

Early goals have energized the defensive unit for coach Floyd Snyder’s senior-led team, which was tied atop Section 3-2A with Charleroi at the start of the week.

“We have a large group of seniors who put a lot of time in on their own during the spring and summer months when we were not able to meet in person,” Snyder said.

Mt. Pleasant (4-0) moved from Section 2 and will face the more competitive part of its schedule moving forward. Charleroi won Section 3 last year.

Another new section team is Southmoreland, “which we are very familiar with since some of our players grew up across the street from each other,” Snyder said. “Southmoreland is always a tough game because of the rivalry factor.

“With Charleroi, I am not sure if we have ever played each other, so lots of uncertainty there, but we know they will push us to be better.”

Mt. Pleasant is scheduled to play Thursday night at Southmoreland.

“This group could be among the better groups I have coached,” Snyder said. “We will see how our guys respond when they are pushed into uncomfortable situations.”

Snyder said a common denominator in the four shutouts has been ball possession, which has limited opponents’ scoring chances.

“We hope to maintain this as we move forward against tougher teams in the section,” the coach said. “It is also because of some timely saves by (goalie) John Menefee and our defense’s ability to take away space from our opponents in danger areas on the field.”

Snyder said this senior group has evolved fast in the three years he has worked with them, and it has taken its place within the program.

“I am not surprised by anything they do because they have always been a hard-working and athletic group,” Snyder said. “This group more than most that I have coached have applied the methods from our training sessions and have responded very well to in-game adjustments.”

Even practices can get chippy.

“They have always been extremely competitive and at times we have had to take water breaks sooner than planned because their compete level is so high,” Floyd said. “I was afraid that someone was going to get hurt.”

Kubasky credits the coaching staff for its instruction and support.

“Our coaching is just spectacular,” Kubasky said. “I have been playing for Floyd for a while now and he is one of the best coaches I have ever played for. He understands each player and how to use them best for our team, and coach Brandon (Fetherlin) started coaching last year and gives us great advice.”

The Vikings starters have been together on youth and school teams since elementary school and have formed chemistry.

“We are used to each other and how we play and our success is built up from a good foundation,” Kubasky said.

When the seniors were freshmen, Mt. Pleasant went 12-0 in section and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“They saw the heartache of the upperclassmen when they lost their bid at a WPIAL title that season in overtime in the second round to Central Valley,” Snyder said.

In all, nine of 11 starters returned for the Vikings, who went 8-8-1 and missed the WPIAL playoffs last season.

Menefee is a second-year goalkeeper, while the back line has not changed with Carson Kirschner, Nathan Saloom and Erik Schweichart. The central midfield features additional seniors Tyler Salvatore, Caleb Heiser and goal scorer Lucas Toohey, who found the net four times in a game this season. Senior Ethan Mates joins Kubasky on the other wing, while senior Dartanyon Braun and junior Braden Heiser are the forwards.

Depth is plentiful for Snyder, who has 32 players, the most he — or maybe any coach — has had on a roster.

“It is great to see the cycle start again with a large group of younger players pushing a large group of older players,” Snyder said, “just like when the group of seniors were freshmen.”

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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