Penn Hills boys soccer ends season on strong note

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Saturday, October 24, 2020 | 11:01 AM


After a tough loss to powerhouse Franklin Regional on Oct. 12, coach Ryan Hankey challenged his Penn Hills boys soccer team by creating a short season in its final three games.

The young Indians answered the bell and ended the season on a positive note, going 2-0-1 with back-to-back shutouts against McKeesport and Obama Academy. Penn Hills finished the season 3-12-1 overall and 1-12-1 in section.

The three-game season started with a 1-1 tie against Woodland Hills on Oct. 14. The Indians had an opportunity to win in overtime, but a shot glanced off the post in the final minutes.

Penn Hills defeated McKeesport, 4-0, in nonsection play Oct. 17 and finished the season with a 3-0 victory at Obama Academy in Section 4-AAA play Oct. 20.

Hankey was especially pleased with the McKeesport game.

“The way we played was the expectations I thought we were going to play all season. We created options, worked at a faster pace and really supported each other with support play. We came out and gave McKeesport one of their worst losses,” Hankey said.

Senior Jonah Silverman, who led the team with eight goals this season, finished his high school soccer career strong with two goals each in the wins against McKeesport and Obama Academy.

The Indians, who were shut out eight times this season, had to deal with the injury bug, especially to key contributors such as junior Tyler Stewart. He suffered a hamstring injury just before the Indians’ third game of the season against Kiski Area on Sept. 19 and didn’t return until the tie against Woodland Hills.

Hankey knew he was going to have to depend on a couple of freshmen in their first year: midfielders Connor Lehman and Mack Byrnes and goalkeeper Landon Hankey.

Hankey was pleased with the contributions by sophomore David Hogan and freshmen Jeremy Safran and Travis Korotko. The group helped complement Silverman and sophomore Lenny Duncan and make up for loss of Stewart.

“I’m excited for the future. There were games where I was starting seven freshmen. We were very young. A lot of kids got some unexpected playing time,” Hankey said.

“Our section is hard with having the two-time WPIAL champion in Franklin Regional and having Plum, who was in the semis in Class AAAA last year with strong seniors. We had tough games when we played Franklin Regional, Plum and Kiski Area. Everyone else we kind of played with.”

During the middle of the season, the Indians lost four of five games by two goals or less. Silverman scored both goals in a 3-2 loss to West Mifflin in section play Sept. 26.

After a 4-2 loss to Obama Academy and a 4-0 shutout to West Mifflin, the Indians lost 3-2 at Gateway on Oct. 3.

“They are drinking the Kool-Aid as they understand this is part of the maturation process. They know they need to put in the work during the offseason. They need to get stronger, faster,” Hankey said.

“We are going to be young again next year. We will have only three juniors with experience for our senior class. We hope to surprise some people next year.”

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