Young North Hills boys soccer team looking to build

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Saturday, September 26, 2020 | 11:01 AM


With almost two dozen sophomores and freshmen on the roster, North Hills boys soccer coach Jared Steigerwald has focused this fall on teaching fundamentals.

Start small and work bigger.

“We’re working on a lot of combinations in small spaces,” Steigerwald said. “Square drills with up, back and goes, putting it across the square, ball movement. And then we transition each day from a smaller space into a small-sided game into a big game.

“Each day we’re looking to add something different.”

With only eight seniors and juniors, the Indians aren’t favorites to reach the playoffs this year in arguably the WPIAL’s toughest section. But with time and so much youth, they could be in that discussion rather soon. The team typically starts at least five sophomores or freshmen, including sophomore captain Nate Adamietz, a two-year starter at center back.

Add in a talented eighth-grade team, and Steigerwald sees reasons for optimism.

“There are definitely some encouraging things,” he said. “It doesn’t matter much for this year, but we have 14 eighth-graders right now who are all very well-trained playing with Beadling, Riverhounds Academy, Hotspurs. They’re true soccer players. The future looks great, but that doesn’t help for like a couple of years, maybe.”

In comparison, his current varsity roster has only two or three athletes who have played youth soccer at an advanced level, he said. Many are multisport athletes who focus on another sport, so Steigerwald is relying on his teaching skills as a former club coach. He is focused on the basics of passing, receiving and touch.

“As a young team, we’ve found we really need to break things down and get simple,” he said.

The team graduated about a dozen seniors and seven starters from last year’s roster that went 6-10-2 overall and 4-8-2 in Section 1-3A. This year, North Hills moved back to Class 4A in a section with Butler, Fox Chapel, North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley and Shaler.

Nate Belack and Ryan Osche lead this season’s senior class and solidify the team’s back line. They provide experience, having been with the program for four years.

Senior keeper Alex Marencel, who competes with the Riverhounds Academy, rejoined the team this fall. He last played for North Hills as a freshman.

Brandon McEwen, an attacking midfielder with strong vision and an ability to distribute, leads the small junior class.

“We’ve told the team from the beginning of the year that the seniors have a chance to kind of write their own chapter,” Steigerwald said. “We asked the question: What do you want to get out of this year? For some teams, it may be win a state championship. Being realistic in our expectations … their goal is to put into every game everything they’ve got.

“They want to leave something behind for all those young guys to try to build on.”

Among the team’s young standouts are sophomore Dios Sergio and freshmen Daniel Dalton and Juan Ncara.

Steigerwald is in his seventh season as coach at his alma mater. As an athlete, the 2000 graduate reached the state playoffs as a junior and senior and later played at LaRoche. As a North Hills senior, he led a team that was the WPIAL runner-up and lost a state semifinal to North Allegheny in a shootout.

“I still think about it daily,” Steigerwald said with a laugh. “You don’t forget memories like that. I want these kids to experience that. Unfortunately (the playoffs are) not there every year, but if we can give them something to look back on and enjoy their experience, memories they can talk about with their friends, that’s the main thing here.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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