Sometimes losing isn't all that bad.
Actually, Claudio Morini believes losing can be a good thing ... for some people.
"Because when you lose, sometimes you learn something from that," the longtime Central Catholic boys soccer coach said. "I don't need to learn anything. I've been doing this for 14 years and I'm old enough.
"It's the young kids. You want your young players to learn something. You want them to learn that they can always work to get better."
After winning their first four games, Morini's Vikings (6-2, 3-1) suffered their first loss with a 2-1 decision on Sept. 8 in Section 3-AAA action at Plum.
"Plum played very well," Morini said. "We were flat and they were better than us. Still, my team is going to get better after each game."
Before losing to Plum, Central Catholic opened its schedule with a win against Mercyhurst Prep before beating Thomas Jefferson, Hempfield Area and Woodland Hills. The Vikings outscored their opponents, 21-4, in their first five games. They also blanked Penn Hills, 3-0, and Gateway, 6-0, in section matches before losing to LaSalle College Prep of Philadelphia, 1-0, last Saturday.
The Vikings put up a good battle against the defending District 12 champion Explorers, who entered the season ranked as the No. 23 boys soccer team in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
"We've played well," Morini said. "We have a lot of talent, but we also have a young team. We've continued to improve game after game.
"We had six sophomores on the field against Plum. We only had three seniors and two juniors on the field. If you don't have a big senior class, you're going to struggle. The inconsistency is there, but we're going to rebuild from our loss and play again."
Considering Central Catholic graduated 10 seniors from last year's team that went 12-0 in Section 3-AAA and finished 18-2 after losing to Peters Township during a semifinal match of the WPIAL playoffs.
"We're young," Morini said. "Individually, we have the talent. These kids play for different club teams and in different systems. We need them to learn our system and it's going to take time.
"It's still very early in the year, but my goal is to make the playoffs because I know we have the talent. I'll be very disappointed if we don't make the playoffs because we have the type of team that can make the playoffs."
Central Catholic did return three returning starters in seniors Jason Beiriger, Zach Broujos and Torey Doaty. Doaty scored four goals against Woodland Hills on Sept. 6, while Broujos netted three goals during the Vikings' 8-0 victory against the Wolverines.
Through five games, Broujos paced the team with 10 goals while Doaty followed with seven goals.
"We demand that we play the ball upfield," Morini said. "If we do that and play good soccer, we have a chance to win.
"This year, we are focused on connecting on our passing and keeping the ball forward. We want to make sure we possess the ball 75 percent [of the time]. If we do that, we have a chance to win the game."
Sophomore goalkeeper Matt Bisceglia, a Kiski Area transfer, also has played a big role in Central Catholic's early-season success.
"Overall, he's done a very good job," Morini said. "Until the Plum game, he only gave up two goals. He's going to get better and better, especially when he becomes more comfortable with the players he has playing in front of him."
Nevertheless, Morini hopes his team learns from its losses to Plum and La Salle and uses those as motivation the rest of the season.
"That could be our last loss," Morini said. "I feel that way because I feel we have a good team. It's still early in the season. Right now, we could play fantastic one day and show up flat the next day. If we're flat, we're going to pay for it.
"For us to improve, we have to believe in each other. We have the right mix of young kids and returning players. If we believe in our talent and believe in ourselves, we will get better."
Through Tuesday's games, Central Catholic was in second place in Section 3-AAA behind Fox Chapel (5-1, 3-0). Plum is third at 3-1-1 overall, 2-1-1 in section play. Gateway is next at 2-2. Central plays at Allderdice today.hssoccer