Sewickley Academy boys soccer looking to capitalize on team-first mentality

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Sunday, September 27, 2020 | 11:01 AM


For the past two years, the Riverside boys soccer team has had Sewickley Academy’s number.

The Panthers of Beaver County have won three of their four matchups with Sewickley Academy since entering Section 1-A play in the 2018 season. Sewickley’s only win came in their first meeting, a 4-0 victory that was a part of a nine-game win streak during the beginning of their regular season.

So, when WPIAL Class A No. 2 Sewickley Academy stormed out of the gates Sept. 16 and beat Riverside 3-0, coach Nate Richter thought it was a pretty good sign of things to come for his senior-laden team.

“To be fair, in years past, Ben Huth, the coach over at Riverside, has had our number,” Richter said. “We haven’t excelled against them, and I thought we played, I wouldn’t say a complete game, but we looked pretty good for coming out in the second game of the season after not competing for seven, eight months. I was pleasantly surprised, and it’s just a testament to the boys and the work they are doing behind the scenes.”

Sewickley Academy comes into the season as one of the top teams in Class A. After starting a slew of underclassmen last season, Richter returns most of his starting lineup and a senior class that is looking to push the program beyond the first round of the playoffs.

Goalkeeper Nick Wilson, all-WPIAL player Jack Wentz, Cole Rychel, who is returning from an injury that kept him out for part of last season, and Bobby Serafin are all players Richter is expecting to have a big impact on the team this year. He also added a lot of younger players that saw significant time last year and could play major roles as well.

Before the season even started, Richter said he could already tell the impact that the seniors had on the team during the offseason. During the downtime, seniors organized workouts for the team to make sure that they were ready to go when the season started. When the first whistle blew at the first preseason workout, the Panthers hit the ground running.

“The boys came into camp fit, which first and foremost is huge for a coach,” Richter said. “I think that’s a testament to them knowing that they could do something really special this year, so hopefully that continues.”

After going 8-8-1 a season ago and losing to Brentwood, 3-0, in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs, the Panthers came into this season ranked as the second-best team in the classification and rightfully so. They returned a large group of starters, a few key underclassmen and have played in the same system for the past few years.

While the boys were excited about their high ranking to begin the season, it didn’t change their outlook at all. In fact, it fueled them to go even further.

“We don’t have extra weight on our shoulders or look at it as expectations,” Richter said. “It raises our level of awareness of the quality of team that we have and it raises our competitive level in our training sessions. The boys are really excited that they were ranked that high, but they didn’t blink. They are excited, but it didn’t change anything for us.”

Richter believes that the Panthers have the talent to do something special this year, but he believes that their camaraderie as a team will help them even more.

“Those key words are team and togetherness,” Richter said. “This team is very together in all that they do. They are friends on the field, and they are friends off the field. That fact that these boys are willing to dig deeper and go further for each other and kind of look each other in the eye and say, ‘I’m going to go out there and do whatever I can to make sure you have a good season,’ speaks volume to who they are and what they’ve become as a team and how they’ve grown.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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