Mt. Pleasant boys soccer won’t let defense rest

Sunday, August 25, 2019 | 6:16 PM

After graduating most of its offensive firepower, Mt. Pleasant’s boys soccer team will look to shut down opponents with its experienced defense this fall.

The Vikings made a run to the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals last year behind the offense from Brad Tait and Sam Napper, who combined for about 40 goals the past two seasons.

Ryan Temple, Lucas Toohey and Luke Hauger hope to replace that production. Temple missed the past two seasons with injury, and Hauger is working his way back from a leg injury that sidelined him last fall.

“Ryan has had some bad luck. We’re hoping he stays healthy this year. He can control the ball for us,” Mt. Pleasant coach Floyd Snyder said. “Lucas has lots of pace and a good shot. Luke Hauger is now getting confidence in his knee, and he brings a lot of experience.”

Mt. Pleasant graduated nine seniors from last year’s team that finished 13-5.

“We’ve been meshing well. A lot of the upcoming juniors and sophomores this year have been putting in hard work and are really wanting to get a good spot on the team,” Vikings senior Arthur Bartlow said. “We’re having the most energetic and competitive practices I’ve seen in a while. People are really trying to push themselves a lot.

The team returns experienced players in the midfield. Caleb Heiser is playing central midfield this year after being on the outside last season.

“He’s great on the ball and has great vision,” Snyder said.

Carson Kirshner can play on the outside or anywhere else. Nathan Saloom plays central midfield, and Nathan Kubasky and Ethan Mates are on the outside.

“They have some experience and pace on the outside, which can be tough to keep up with,” Snyder said. “I think we’ll surprise some teams this season.”

Tyler Salvatore and Bartlow anchor the defense as center backs.

“They meshed real well before the season started,” Snyder said. “They are both two very vocal players who can control the back line.”

Junior John Menefee takes over as starting goalkeeper.

“He has some big shoes to fill. John has a good nose for the ball and is good on his angles,” Snyder said. “He is a consistent goalie. He saves the easy ones and makes some big saves. When you do that, that really gets the team going.”

Getting back to the postseason is the team’s goal, but it’s not an easy one. Three playoff teams from the section last year — Deer Lakes, Shady Side Academy and Freeport — reached the quarterfinals. Shady Side Academy (8-3-1), which finished behind Mt. Pleasant (9-3-0) in the section, won the WPIAL title and lost to Deer Lakes in the PIAA semifinals. Deer Lakes lost to Fleetwood, 1-0, in the state title match.

“It’s a pretty awesome section,” Snyder said. “It’s going to be quite a challenge this year, too.”

Sensing this, the Vikings have been focused throughout the preseason.

“I think their work ethic is no-nonsense,” Snyder said. “We have a big group of juniors. Sometimes, you have to stay on top of big groups of juniors, but this group has really buckled down. They have been coming to work not to mess around.”

“We definitely want to get back in the postseason. It’s the same goal every year,” Bartlow said. “We want to go for the section title, and our long-term goal is to get a WPIAL title.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.


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