New coach Skoda eager to help Highlands girls soccer team get back on track
Sunday, July 17, 2022 | 5:35 PM
Preseason practices for the girls soccer season at Highlands begin in less than a month, and Matt Skoda said there is much work to be done before that first official workout.
The veteran high school soccer coach recently was hired to head the Golden Rams program, and, he said, he hopes he can help turn around its fortunes after two seasons of struggle with roster size and wins and losses.
“I don’t exactly know how things are going to play out, but that will be part of the process, really,” said Skoda, who takes over from Paul Matisz, who didn’t return after several seasons with the program overall and the 2021 campaign as head coach. “I am not sure if players will play in the same positions they did in previous years or what type of strategy we will employ, but it will all come together over the next month to month and a half.
“There are so many questions to be answered. I am looking forward to seeing the returning players and new players to the varsity team get on the field and work. That is part of the fun, seeing what each player can do and where the pieces will fit. It is a clean slate, and there will be so many opportunities to be had if they are willing to work hard.”
Highlands went winless the past two seasons after earning a trip to the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs in 2019.
“It’s been a rough couple of years record-wise and numbers-wise, but my goal is to help turn that around,” Skoda said.
Skoda began his scholastic soccer coaching career in 2008 as a boys assistant at St. Joseph before taking over the head coaching role the next season.
He continued in that role through the 2018 season after which he again served as an assistant coach as his duties as St. Joseph athletic director increased.
In 10 seasons in charge of the Spartans boys program, Skoda compiled 83 victories, and his teams earned five trips to the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
He helped led St. Joseph to within one game of a section title in 2016 as the Spartans, fronted by the goal-scoring efforts of two-time Valley News Dispatch Player of the Year Vincenzo Schiano DiCola, went 15-3 overall and 10-2 in section matches.
The year before, St, Joseph won 13 games, went 7-3 in section play and qualified for the WPIAL tournament.
Skoda, who stepped down from his role as St. Joseph athletic director after the 2019-20 academic year, moves to the Golden Rams girls program after serving as a Highlands boys assistant the past two seasons with coaches Jason Norris and Jakub Kasprzyk.
“It was a really weird time in 2020 to start at a new place,” Skoda said. “You couldn’t really meet the parents or anything like that because of the distancing and restrictions with the covid pandemic. It was an unusual time, but it was fun getting to coach the guys and see them grow. I enjoyed it a lot the past two years.”
Now, Skoda hopes to help the girls program get back on track, and Highlands athletic director Drew Karpen said he’s looking forward to seeing what Skoda will be able to accomplish.
“We’re pretty excited to have Matt step up and become the girls head coach,” said Karpen, who got to know Skoda during the 2019-20 school year as Skoda continued his athletic administrative duties at St. Joseph. “We’re pretty familiar with him as the boys assistant the past couple of years, and he built quite a resume when he coached at St. Joseph for all those years.
“When the girls position opened up, he was the first person I thought of. The fact that we had a great candidate internally made the search that much easier. We do have some building to do with the program, but I think with what he can bring, he will be able to do that.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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