Penn Hills boys soccer players gain experience in challenging section

Thursday, October 17, 2019 | 5:16 PM

The Penn Hills boys soccer team’s record doesn’t tell the whole story in regards to the Indians’ season.

The young, inexperienced team was in many close games but couldn’t find a way to finish.

The Indians (2-16, 1-13) started on a positive note when they defeated Jeannette, 5-0, in a nonsection match Aug. 31.

After only scoring one goal in the next three games, Penn Hills righted the ship by getting its first section win under coach Ryan Hankey when the Indians beat Hempfield, 5-2, in Section 3-AAAA on Sept. 10.

However, Penn Hills lost the next 13 games. The Indians were outscored 66-6 and shut out nine times.

“We were in them more than the scores indicated,” Hankey said. “It was good to see they were competitive in every game and didn’t put their head down. You never saw that let down. You saw them play the full 80. We just have to learn how to know how to close games.”

The Indians were winning 1-0 at home against Woodland Hills with eight minutes remaining before giving up two late goals in a 2-1 loss Sept. 12.

Penn Hills was beating Connellsvile and Latrobe at halftime but lost both matches.

The Indians had 23 players on their roster, including four freshmen — Lenny Duncan, Alex Monteque, Owen Williams and Alinur Zhamaldinov.

Hankey was pleased by Williams’ development as he aggressively played the ball, which earned him a permanent spot in the starting lineup halfway through the season.

Sophomores Charlie Joe Rosemeyer, Tyler Stewart and Josh Lee all gained more playing time, and Hankey is excited to see what they bring after having two years of valuable minutes at the varsity level.

“I’m excited with the youth coming up with the eight-graders. A lot of the ninth-graders got a lot of opportunity to play and get some game experience that they wouldn’t have gotten if the numbers were bigger,” Hankey said.

With a lot of the key contributors returning next season, Hankey will need to lean on Duncan to generate offense. Junior Jonah Silverman, who was a team captain, will return to provide energy.

“I tried to move him to different places to see if he would generate more offense for us. I played him at center mid at the beginning of the year. He’s very versatile in that he can play multiple positions,” Hankey said.

“He continued to fight out there. Hopefully, a lot of players start to look up to him and seeing his effort in practice and in the games. He didn’t take any time off.”

Hankey will continue to cultivate his culture during the offseason through a strength and conditioning program as well as participating in winter tournaments.

“We are continuing to build the culture of dedication and commitment. I’m trying to get them to buy into the process of being able to compete,” Hankey said.

“For us to be able to compete with those types of teams, we have to be able to compete with each other at practice and when you get game time.”

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