Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pine-Richland Is Fit to Be Tied

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pine-Richland Is Fit to Be Tied

Article excerpt

If there is one distinction the Pine-Richland boys soccer team has this season it is it has the most unique record in the WPIAL.

At the beginning of the week, the Rams were 1-2-4. While the perception of that mark may lie on whether the glass is half full or half empty, Pine-Richland has shown it can play with any team in Section 2-AAA with ties against the three teams ahead of it in the section standings.

"It's positive because we're not losing but it's also frustrating at the same time," said defender Jake Gill.

"The kids are motivated and enthusiastic. They are not stymied by a tie at all, it's a positive actually," coach Jon Conner said. "One win would put us in a third-place position."

Which is an improvement from last season, when the Rams finished 6-10-2 overall and their 3-7-2 record was merely good enough for sixth place out of seven teams in 2-AAA.

But that team did win its final five games and provided hope for a repeat in 2015 with the original belief the Rams could be a playoff performer this season.

They've done so this year by playing low-scoring games. No Pine- Richland player at the beginning of the week had scored as many as two goals, and the ties against first-place Seneca Valley Sept. 10 and second-place North Allegheny nine days later were both scoreless.

"A lot of [our] game is played between the 18-yard lines," said Conner, who adjusts a 4-4-2 alignment to his competition every game.

Defensively, that means Gill, who doubles as the kicker on the Rams' football team, Alec Ewansik, Greg Shulkosky and Jake Engle often line up in a formation Conner compares to a "W," with the two outside backs playing up in front of senior goalkeeper Jake Reuter.

"That back four, and our outside midfielders, have been workhorses," said Conner, noting the intensity they must play with from being in a tie game because it is close for 100, not 80, minutes. …

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