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Mt. Pleasant boys soccer reloads in hopes of another strong run

Tribune-Review
| Sunday, August 26, 2018 4:03 p.m.

Two section titles in two years. That’s the goal for Mt. Pleasant’s boys soccer team.

With eight starters back from a squad that went 12-0 in Section 2-AA and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals, the Vikings hope for even more success this fall. The first order, though, is rebuilding a defense that graduated three starters.

Outside back Caleb Pfeifer is the lone returning starter, but Arthur Bartlow shifted from midfield to center back, and sophomores Tyler Salvatore and Nathan Kubasky moved into starting roles.

“We’ve been really focusing on getting our back line in sync,” Mt. Pleasant senior forward Sam Napper said. “They are looking pretty good.”

The Vikings believe that area will turn into a strength as time passes.

“It’s just a matter of them playing in games and watching film and getting better from there,” coach Floyd Snyder said. “We’re confident they’ll be pretty solid.”

Senior goalkeeper Shane Piper returns to help the back line as well. He had a 12-game shutout streak last year.

“Shane had a great run last year in goal,” Snyder said. “He reads the game well and puts himself in good spots all the time.”

The team won’t need to rely on its defense alone. The offense has plenty of firepower, especially with senior midfielder Brad Tait and Napper back. Tait scored 24 goals and added 11 assists to earn section player of the year honors. Napper had 17 goals and 17 assists and earned all-section honors.

“Just starting with those two, it’s great to have them back. This will be their fourth year starting for us,” Snyder said. “Alex Pomarico was our leading goal scorer two years ago, and he is in the midfield again with Jack Shirley. They did a good job controlling things for us in the middle. They are both very great players in different ways.”

The Vikings lost returning starter Luke Hauger to a knee injury but hope to control play with their midfield.

“We have a lot of experience in the midfield, and that’s probably our strongest area at this point,” Napper said. “We’ve been playing together for so long that we know what do, and our chemistry is really good.”

The team hopes to build off its playoff run. Mt. Pleasant beat Elizabeth Forward, 5-1, but lost to Central Valley, 2-1, to finish 15-3 overall.

“After our loss in the second round of the playoffs, we were disappointed,” Napper said. “We had the lead and lost it. We’ve used that as motivation for this upcoming season.”

The Vikings look forward to defending their section title.

“What they did last year definitely gave them some confidence. Our section was pretty tough,” Snyder said. “You had Shady Side as a fourth-place team that won WPIALs. That tells you how competitive our section is, especially the top four.

“Deer Lakes is a battle each time we play them. It gives you confidence knowing you can play with those team and hang in there. That goes a long way. Our section is going to be a battle again with the top four teams in the section.

“Deer Lakes is a great team, and they were young like us last year. I think they’ll be very dangerous. Shady Side always has great players. Both of those teams have great coaches. Freeport is always a very good team as well. Derry was picking it up throughout the year, too.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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