George Williams trotted out a different lineup each and every game for the Seneca Valley High School boys soccer team last year.
Due to a number of circumstances, including injuries, Seneca Valley had very little continuity when it came to starters and formations.
This year Williams estimates he has used only a handful of different lineups through 13 games. The consistency in terms of personnel has translated to consistency in results.
The Raiders are 12-1-1 this season and have clinched the Class AAA Section 2 title with a 10-0 record with two section contests remaining. They are ranked No. 3 in the Post-Gazette Class AAA rankings.
"Last year we had a different starting lineup every single game," Williams said. "Consistency was a problem. On the flip side, we have been able to be very consistent this season. That has been a big key for us doing as well as we have been."
Even with the constant rotation of different players last season, the Raiders still managed to win 14 games, finish second in the section and reach the WPIAL quarterfinals. The returning starters from that group are senior goalie Colton Smith, senior forward Jared Myers and senior defender Joe DeAugustino.
"We only had three players back who started consistently last year," Williams said. "Going into the year there were a lot of unknowns. We didn't know what to expect. We had a lot of talent, just not a lot of experience."
There are only three starters back but the experience is spread around with Colton and DeAugustino in the back and Myers up top.
"The leadership is spread out, it definitely helps," Williams said.
There were holes to fill around the entire field for Seneca Valley but none bigger than in the midfield where four-year starter Ryan Vilella graduated. Vilella was the 2012 Post-Gazette Player of the Year. An Xavier University recruit, Vilella was also named the Pennsylvania Player of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He scored 38 goals and tallied 27 assists in his career.
"It is very weird to go out there without him," Williams said. "He was on the field for four years, it was a big loss and it is tough to adjust. But I think the players responded very well this year, knowing they were going to have to be a much more solid well-rounded team and they responded very well to that.
"It is a good hard working team that adapts very well to different situations."
Much like Vilella, Seneca Valley's leading scorer this year can put the ball in the back of the net and also set teammates up. Myers led the team with seven goals and nine assists through 13 games.
"He is a nice all-round player," Williams said. "He is a very skilled player and a very hard worker. He stays with the play and he passes and dribbles well."
The goal scoring is spread around this team with sophomore midfielder Matt Saluga second on the team with five goals and senior forward Brad Banks totaling four goals and three assists.
Along with DeAugustino, the other starters on defense are senior Kalin DiPaolo, junior Danny Wallowicz and sophomore Adam Mascio.
"The defense has played very strong, Colton has seven shutouts and those defenders are a large part of that," Williams said.
In the midfield, junior Michael DiMichele starts as a defensive midfielder with Saluga playing as an attacking central midfield. Senior Ben McConahy and sophomore T.J. Turley start as outside midfielders, playing behind Myers and Banks, the two forwards.hssoccer
First Published October 9, 2013 8:00 PM