“I wasn’t worried at all. I knew I had the ability.” -Luke Wagner

After a disappointing end to the last year’s soccer season, the varsity team had high hopes for the 2018-2019 season.  Last year, as the number 4 seeded team, the boys lost in the first round of WPIAL playoffs, but that didn’t stop their optimistic drive for the next season. Although the team graduated three starters last year, the rising, talented underclassmen promised a successful upcoming season. Senior Michael Mucha described how the team improved: “We have all worked very hard during the off season. Many players play cup soccer, lift, or simply have training sessions on their own to take their game to the next level.” Junior, and captain, Lucas Schriefer also commented on the importance of this past off-season: “The off-season coming into this year was huge; we had a good group of about 13 guys consistently working to improve and it definitely helped us get to where we are.” Other players have seen a noticeable difference since last season, commenting on work ethic and strong team bonds. Junior Johnathon Nicolaus attributes their success to, “strong and effective coaching and the large contribution that each member of the team makes every game, whether it is from the players in the game working hard to win or the players on the bench who are helping to encourage and communicate with the people on the field.” 

The team celebrates their victory over Riverside. (Kevin McGibbney)

The top-seeded, undefeated varsity boys looked to defend their record as they competed in the WPIAL finals November 1, 2018 at Highmark Stadium. At the beginning of the game, the Antelopes started off strong. By halftime, the ‘Lopes had scored two goals, putting them up 2 over the Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions. Senior Sam Guzzo connected first, sending the ball into the goal with about 25 minutes left in the half.

Avonworth, who had given up less than ten goals the whole season, posed a strong defense against GCC. The teams entered the half with a 2-0 lead, the second goal coming from a GCC player, who headed the ball into his own goal.

In the second half, the GCC centurions came back, scoring two goals, and tying the game. Towards the end of the second half, junior Luke Wagner stepped in for starting goalkeeper, senior Timmy Stewart, who had to exit the game with an injury. With the game tied, the teams entered overtime play, and after two overtimes, they moved into penalty kick shootout, which would determine the champions. With each team’s players burying the ball into the net, the shootout was tied 5-5. Freshman Connor Whalen stepped up to the line and sunk the ball into the right corner of the net. Up 6-5, the pressure was on for Wagner to block the next GCC kick. The GCC player, the same one who headed the ball into his own net, kicked the ball into the corner, but he was stopped by Wagner’s diving block.

Wagner’s dramatic save gave the Avonworth Varsity Boys Soccer team their first WPIAL title in school history.

“This feeling is something that we’d all like to hold on to; we all enjoy playing together and want to keep that going as long as possible.” -Lucas Schriefer

The ‘Lopes beat Greensburg Central Catholic 1-0 in the PIAA semi-finals. They will play again November 16, 2018 against Millville at Hershey Park Stadium at 1:30 pm.

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