Westmoreland boys soccer notebook: Kennedy’s return sparks Latrobe boys

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020 | 4:30 PM


Tom Kennedy returned to coach boys soccer at Latrobe this season and immediately aimed to simplify things.

“In the system I used to run at GCC, it was easy,” Kennedy said. “It’s about knowing your responsibility and the players having accountability. You can’t have a breakdown. You need people to play where they’re supposed to be to make it work.”

Like football or basketball offenses, soccer is about formations. Instead of using a “flat back” four defenders in a 4-4-2 set, Kennedy switched the Wildcats to a 4-3-3 to give his strikers more opportunities to find the net.

In layman’s terms, he put his playmakers in positions to attack the net.

“You need three fast strikers,” said Kennedy, who coached Greensburg Central Catholic for 15 years and helped start the men’s and women’s programs at Westmoreland County Community College. “You need the players to play this way.”

Of the 38 goals the Wildcats have scored, 23 were by strikers, including 15 from senior Nolan Agostoni. Ten players overall had scored.

Junior Will Casey has seven goals and senior Ryan Banks nine assists.

The strategy needed time to take root, but it is working. The Wildcats (6-2-1, 5-2-1) tied No. 3 Norwin, 1-1, on Monday to clinch a playoff spot.

Nico Lorenzi scored on a penalty kick in the 40th minute, and goalkeeper Tanner Sabol matched thrilling saves with Norwin’s Andrew Yanez through two scoreless overtimes.

Latrobe started later than most teams because of scheduling conflicts and jumped right into Section 3-4A play.

“I wasn’t sure how we’d be,” said Kennedy, who has 274 career wins. “We opened with Penn-Trafford, which was supposed to be our fourth game. Right now, we’re usually coming up on the halfway point of the season, and we’re almost to the playoffs.

“The kids seem to like the way we play and are having fun.”

The Wildcats swept Penn-Trafford and clipped Connellsville by a goal. They took a four-game winning streak into the Norwin game.

Kennedy, who coached Latrobe for five years before taking last year off, was asked by the athletic department to come back. He obliged, but this is more than a favor. He plans for the Wildcats to contend in the 4A bracket.

Latrobe also made the playoffs two years ago but that was just its second postseason trip in a decade.

“We have some depth on this team,” Kennedy said. “We’ll see what we can do.”

•••

Playoff picture

With a week left in the WPIAL regular season, the following local teams had clinched spots in the playoffs: Norwin and Latrobe in Class 4A; Belle Vernon, Franklin Regional and Kiski Area in 3A; Burrell and Mt. Pleasant in 2A; and Greensburg Central Catholic in Class A.

The playoffs are scheduled to start Oct. 22.

•••

Nice return

Norwin’s Brendan Ash missed three games after injuring his foot against Penn-Trafford, and Knights coach Scott Schuchert said he was curious how Ash would do in his return to the field.

All Ash did was score five goals in a 9-0 win over Connellsville. He added a goal Monday in the 1-1 draw with Latrobe.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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