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Talented seniors led way for SSA boys

It was a satisfying season for Shady Side Academy boys soccer coach Ed Ellsworth and his team.

They finished with a 16-3-1 record and reached the WPIAL championship game and the semifinals of the PIAA tournament.

Along the way, the team amassed 13 shutouts.

“We had an incredible year,” Ellsworth said. “The impressive aspect of this season was the commitment that the players gave to winning while playing beautiful soccer. I think the courage they showed to play the game the right way stands out to me most.

“Our playoff run was particularly exciting, winning in double overtime against No. 1 South Park and No. 4 Waynesburg. Eric Zhang went through one of the hottest streaks I’ve seen from a player, scoring four game-winning goals in the playoffs.”

Now, Ellsworth must find a way to replace some talented seniors.

“When you have to replace the section player of the year, Patrick Hill-Junke, team MVP Brendan Brazinski, All-WPIAL player Eric Zhang along with Mac Ference, and goalkeeper Doran Kozel, you certainly have some big shoes to fill for next season,” Ellsworth said. “This group has continued the process of establishing a culture of excellence and playoff success at the school.”

Ellsworth will have a strong group of players returning. Leading scorer Ben Ream will be back, along with fellow juniors Eric Wolf and Jacob Kuzma and sophomores Walter Navid, Kenny Shergill, Max Farner, Danny Palmer, Jonathan Vuchinich and Thomas Spiker.

“Several other young players will be counted on to step up next season,” Ellsworth said.

“It was a privilege to coach this team and watch them conquer each challenge they faced. Next year’s team can certainly draw from the example they showed.”

Marty Stewart is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-782-2123 or [email protected].


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