Shaler boys soccer not backing down from competition in loaded Section 1-4A

Thursday, August 9, 2018 | 10:27 PM

Legislating competitive balance isn’t something the WPIAL can consider when creating sections as it realigns every two years based on enrollment. Typically, schools are placed in these divisions by geography.

It became especially cruel in the case of the Shaler boys soccer program. With North Hills falling to Class 3A, the Titans saw the Indians — whom Shaler recorded its only two section victories against last season — exit and Allderdice, Central Catholic and Fox Chapel enter.

All three of the new programs qualified for the WPIAL playoffs last season. That means this season’s eight-team Section 1-4A will feature seven teams that made the playoffs last season — and Shaler.

“We like it because now we have more games, and you get more chances to get more points to get into the playoffs,” Shaler senior midfielder Cohen Wilkins said. “Instead of just having to beat NAs and Senecas once or twice, but now you can beat Fox Chapel or a couple other teams to get more points to get a playoff push.”

Titans coach Adam Hunter isn’t wallowing in Shaler’s situation.

“I think we can be as successful as this group wants to be,” Hunter said. “If we work hard, we can surprise some teams.”

The Titans, who finished 7-11 and 2-8 in section last season, haven’t qualified for the postseason since going 9-6-3 in 2009. Shaler will be looking to replace leading scorer Jake Jashinski, who is playing soccer at Division I St. Bonaventure.

Down the stretch last season, Wilkins thought the Titans struggled with their fitness. Shaler lost five of its final six section games. The Titans were shut out four times in 10 games against section foes last season.

“Our fitness is better,” Wilkins said. “We’ve been working harder coming into preseason camp. I think our fitness will be better going into the second half of the season, so we won’t be as tired and have as heavy legs going into those last crucial games.”

What helps is having scoring punch returning.

Wilkins and junior midfielder Sam Bens contributed key goals for the Titans last season. Senior forward Ian Wohlfarth also will contribute.

“I think we return more guys going forward this year,” Hunter said. “Last year, we only had one or two returning varsity goal scorers. More of our experience lies in our back four where we return Peter Moorey, and he’s a key piece to our puzzle.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.


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