Senior-heavy Sewickley Academy boys soccer team chasing another section title

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Sunday, September 18, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Sewickley Academy has traditionally been a significant force in boys soccer.

The Panthers are maintaining that tradition so far in 2022.

Through six games, SA was undefeated with wins over Freeport (7-0), Eden Christian (2-1), Beaver County Christian (3-1), South Side (7-0), Greensburg Central Catholic (4-2) and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (3-2).

That adds up to a 26-6 scoring advantage with two shutouts.

“We are a very experienced team this season with so many seniors,” coach Alessandro Moreira said. “Our approach is to always go game-by-game, taking each game one at a time. We are proud of our performance so far. The boys are learning the tactical lessons well; however, we also recognize we always have areas for improvement.

“I am honestly very pleased with the performance of each and every one of our players. We are continuing to work well together as a team supporting each other with a positive team attitude and seeking exceptional performance. We respect every opponent we play, and we always try to perform our very best in each game.”

The Panthers’ have not had a losing season since 2010, have won two PIAA and two WPIAL titles, were a PIAA finalist five times and finished first or second in section play all 11 years, including winning seven section crowns.

SA won a section title last year with a 9-0-1 record. OLSH ended up second at 8-1-1.

The Panthers advanced to the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals, were 12-2-1 overall and outscored the opposition 81-15 as 11 opponents were held to one goal or less, including four via shutouts.

The team’s three main scoring threats again this year are upperclassmen, forward Michael DiSantis (11 goals), midfielder Hudson Colletti and forward Adin Zorn.

“The 6-0 start is really amazing considering we have beaten ranked teams,” DiSantis said. “Our expectation is to maintain the level we are at and bring the momentum into our next big section games.

“I am proud of my (offensive production), but I know I can be more clinical in front of the goal.”

DiSantis and Colletti paced SA in scoring last year and were complemented offensively by Zorn, who led the team in assists. They are returning senior starters in what appears to be a stacked SA lineup this season.

“The mentality of our team is what really drives us,” DiSantis said. “A lot of teams are filled with club soccer players but our team is driven to win by our chemistry and passion. We are all super excited. Our expectation this year is to push for the WPIAL title with most of our key players being seniors.

“But I’m really impressed with the young guys, and I am grateful to have such an uplifting head coach and a supportive new assistant coach behind us.”

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound DiSantis is a fourth-year starter who was closing in on 50 career goals after five games this season.

Cooper Wentz, a junior, is the starting goalkeeper once again. He is in his second season as a starter in the net and third overall.

“We are so fortunate to have one of the best goalkeepers in our area, Cooper Wentz, who now has several years of experience and has been extremely reliable for us,” said Moreira, who is assisted by Dave Lessure.

Wentz has been playing soccer, specifically as a goalkeeper, since he was 5 years old.

“I speak for the team when I say we are pleased with our undefeated record,” Wentz said. “We have come against multiple challenges and have come up big in big moments. But I think the general feeling of the team is that no one is surprised; we knew coming into this year we could achieve what we have so far.”

The Panthers are laser-focused on one major goal this season.

“We have one simple goal for this season, to win a WPIAL championship,” Wentz said. “We know we have the athletes and the skilled players to do so. We know we’ve only scratched the surface of what we could become and look forward to more tests to prove ourselves as a team.”

Along with the two shutouts, Wentz allowed just one goal in two other games.

“As long as we are letting in goals there is room to improve,” he said. “I think our young defense and I have kept that learning mentality and we know we can and need to be better for future competition.”

Other returning starters include senior forward Daniel Torres, senior midfielder Lucas Mendonca and, on defense, seniors Garrett Smith and Thomas Varghese, junior Jayden Garcha and sophomore Andrew Colletti. Garcha is a midfielder this season.

Junior forward Jackson Quigley also has been making his presence felt on the pitch.

SA is a member of Section 1-A along with Beaver County Christian, Eden Christian, Freedom, Neshannock, OLSH and South Side.

The first half of section play for the Panthers ends Sept. 20 with a road game at Freedom.

“Our players are still learning aspects of positioning, skills and formation on the field,” said Moreira, who is in his second year. “We have many underclassmen who are coming along and contributing nicely. But we still recognize we have a long way to go and we are not satisfied.”

The top five teams in Class A in the Trib HSSN boys soccer rankings for the week ending Sept. 11 consisted of Winchester Thurston, Sewickley Academy, Greensburg Central Catholic, Eden Christian and Charleroi.

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