North Xtra: North Allegheny leaning heavily on defense


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North Allegheny boys soccer coach Bob Vosmaer is in search of goal scorers as he looks to rebuild a team that lost 14 seniors last season, 10 of whom started for most of the season.

While the Tigers attempt to figure out who is going to put balls in the back of the net they will lean on their defense that should be one of the stronger units in the section.

Goal scoring was not a huge problem last year for North Allegheny as it went 10-4-3 and 8-3-1 in Class AAA Section 2 to reach the playoffs. This team bares little resemblance to the 2012 squad with senior defensive midfielder Sean Dickerson and junior defender Steve Binning the only returning starters.

"We have very little experience, it is going to be an interesting season," Vosmaer said. "We have a lot to work on, we are just working on being consistent. Right now, we are not consistent enough."

North Allegheny opened its season Saturday with a 2-1 win against Erie Cathedral Prep.

"We had a very good first half [Saturday] against Erie Cathedral Prep but we only got one goal," Vosmaer said. "If we can score some goals in the first 20 minutes, we are going to be solid. We just don't have any pure goal scorers, it has to be a team effort."

Dickerson and senior midfielder Nick Jewell scored for the Tigers Saturday.

"[Dickerson] is a good player, he is more of a defensive-minded player. Sean is solid and when he comes up from defense he will score here and there. But mostly he is a defensive player," Vosmaer said. "I need goal scorers and people who can create. We have the ability to be able to hang around in most of our games but that is not good enough, we have to win games."

The addition of Jewell this season will give North Allegheny a big boost. He did not play for the high school team a year ago, opting rather to play for an out of state academy program.

"We will try different groups and see if we can find the right combination," Vosmaer said. "Scoring is the hardest thing in soccer."

North Allegheny will stick with its 4-4-2 formation this season. In the back, junior Luke Nolan takes over in net. He was the varsity backup last season.

North Allegheny picked a good season to have to replace so many starters. There are a lot of rebuilding projects underway this season in Class AAA Section 2. Pine-Richland, defending section champion and a WPIAL semifinalist a year ago, will be rebuilding as will Seneca Valley.

"The last few years it has been Seneca Valley, Pine-Richland, Butler and us," Vosmaer said. "It has always been very close. Pine-Richland is young and Seneca Valley is rebuilding."

North Allegheny opened its section schedule Tuesday when it defeated Shaler, 4-0, on the Tigers home pitch.

The new-look Tigers and new-look Rams will have a much better idea of where each team stands after their crucial section meeting Saturday at Pine-Richland. The Tigers will take a break from section play after the Pine-Richland meeting when they play two more District 10 teams, Mercyhurst Prep Saturday and Erie McDowell Monday.

"Our training hasn't translated into games yet," Vosmaer said. "We are just hoping that the first few games are going to give us a little bit of stability."

North Allegheny figures to be in a lot of one-goal games this season. Of its 12 section contests last season, 10 were one-goal games and another was a tie. The Tigers played in seven 1-0 games, but only went 3-4 in those games.

"If we can score that first goal, it will certainly help," Vosmaer said. "In this section one-goal games are basically a regular result the last few years."



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