North Xtra: North Allegheny grad earns honors at Lehigh

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Growing up playing soccer through the youth ranks and on club teams and all the way up to North Allegheny High School, Jamie Luchini enjoyed plenty of individual and team success.

Jogging his memory looking back at his playing career Luchini can recall some team struggles at the U-10 level and his sophomore season at North Allegheny but they were few and far between.

Now he's two years into his college career at Lehigh University, and it is the wins that are few and far between but Luchini continues to perform and he continues to stay positive.

After winning a combined 20 games on two postseason-bound teams as a junior and senior at North Allegheny in 2011 and 2012, Luchini has won a combined six games in his first two seasons playing for the Mountain Hawks.

"It has been two disappointing, frustrating seasons but we're staying positive, we are hoping to turn it around next season," Luchini said.

Luchini has firsthand experience of a program turning things around in a short time. As a sophomore at North Allegheny, Luchini and the Tigers finished 5-11-2 overall and 1-7-2 in Class AAA Section 2, failing to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs.

The next season North Allegheny would finish 10-8-1 and qualify for the playoffs.

"During the season, it is a mental battle sometimes when you are seeing results continuing to go the wrong way," Luchini said. "We have a good group of resilient guys on the team who want to improve and who want to win championships. I think we have the correct formula. If we can just find a few guys who can just put goals in the back of the net, things can turn around quickly."

Luchini has been a key contributor for the Mountain Hawks. He started eight of 11 games last season as a freshman before missing time with a concussion.

This season, this Franklin Park resident started 13 of 16 games and had two goals to lead the team. His 24 shots were second most on the team.

"It is different coming on the field as a sophomore and being an experienced player versus someone who has never played a college minute before," Luchini said. "The main difference this year is mostly experience and knowing the pace of the game."

Luchini scored goals against Navy and Holy Cross this season. His goal against Navy was scored against goalie Gavin Snyder who at the time led the nation in goals-against average. Luchini scored on a breakaway run from the left side late in the game. His other goal came on Nov. 9 in the season finale for Lehigh.

"As a team you see goals go in and they tend to be a pretty streaky thing," Luchini said. "Last year there was a streak where we had a decent amount of goals. It is good knowing that you can score and get you that confidence back you had in high school when you had the feeling that you could score at any given time."

Two soccer seasons in and nearly three full semesters in, Luchini has proven he can excel off the field as well. Last week Luchini was named to the Academic All-Patriot League team. Luchini has a 3.76 grade point average in the business school. He landed on dean's list each of his first two semesters at Lehigh. He was also named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll last season.

The Patriot League names 11 athletes to the Academic All-League team each season and Luchini was one of only two underclassmen to be honored this season.

"The first semester of college, sometimes you overanalyze things," Luchini said. "The more you go through your college career, the more you can figure out ways of doing things in a timely manner."

In less than two full years of college, Luchini has certainly made a name for himself in a timely manner.

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