North Hills soccer at crossroads in playoff chase

Thursday, September 26, 2019 | 3:29 PM

With a little more than half of its season in the books, the North Hills boys soccer team is positioning itself for a late-season battle for one of the final WPIAL playoff spots in Section 1-AAA.

Thus far, the Indians (4-5-1, 3-5-1) have experienced their fair share of highs and lows. The team knocked off Deer Lakes, a team that made it as far as the PIAA Class AA state championship last season, by the score of 2-1. However, coach Jared Steigerwald’s group was also dealt a tough loss recently, dropping an important conference match to Knoch, 2-1.

“That’s where we’re at this season. It’s been a little up and down,” Steigerwald said.

“We’ve struggled to show up when the whistle blows at times. I think we’ve let up four or five goals in the first two minutes across the nine or 10 games we’ve played this year. We tend to put ourselves in adverse situations. Sometimes we can pull ourselves out of it, but other times, we can’t. It’s something we need to correct.”

Fortunately for the Indians, Duncan Kreps has been a solid finisher around the net, evidenced by his three-goal performance against Knoch the first time the teams met.

Marlon Guevara has also supplied the team’s offense with a good deal of firepower, leading North Hills in scoring with eight goals through 10 contests.

“He’s definitely a guy that provides a spark,” Steigerwald said. “When he’s on his game, the other guys rally around him. One thing he’s done well, early on in the year, he’s already had more assists than he did all of last year. So, it’s good to see him distributing the ball and setting up goals in addition to scoring them.”

For the most part, Steigerwald says its been a balanced attack that’s helped pace the team in its wins. In its losses, the team’s evenhanded approach has limited them as they search for a catalyst to prompt them into accelerating their play.

Still, the coach said he does not believe major changes are required for his team to make a run at one of the last playoff spots in the section.

“When it comes down to it, it’s, ‘How do we overcome these adverse situations?’ And the answer is, we need to be more consistent,” the sixth-year coach said.

“That’s our biggest thing right now, figuring out how to be more consistent. When we figure that out, I have full confidence that we can beat anybody that lines up across the field from us. But if we’re not there, it’s as if anyone can beat us. So, we’re at a crucial place right now trying to figure this out.”

North Hills will play a section match at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 at Indiana.


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