North Xtra: Fox Chapel putting ball in net at prolific rate

HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SOCCER

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When it comes to scoring goals, Fox Chapel Area can hang with the best of them in the WPIAL.

It is not only how many goals the Foxes can score that makes them so dangerous ... it is the goal-scoring options they have.

Three players topped 15 goals this year and Fox Chapel rode that offense to a 15-1 regular-season record and a share of the Class AAA Section 3 title with Central Catholic.

The No. 3-seeded Foxes blanked Franklin Regional, 1-0, on Monday in a WPIAL first-round playoff game. They will play No. 11 Canon-McMillan (15-2-2) tonight.

"We had a good number of goal scorers about four years ago," eighth-year Fox Chapel coach Erik Ingram said. "But I think this is the most scoring power we have had since I have been here."

Junior Cole Ryan led the team with 19 goals and senior Jack Dickens was second with 17. Those sorts of contributions could have been expected from two players who have started since their freshmen seasons but the third leading goal scorer may come as a surprise. Freshman Max Silberg netted 15 goals this season. While that may be a surprise to some, it is not to Ingram.

"We knew about Max coming up through the middle school program," Ingram said. "He had great success there and he gets better every game. He was a great player coming out of preseason and he is much better now. He has really taken full advantage of the opportunity to play with older, talented players."

The trio of Ryan, Dickens and Silberg has combined to score 51 of Fox Chapel's 70 goals this season.

"They complement each other very well, they are all very good dribblers with nice speed and they have nice shots," Ingram said. "But at the same time they are different which also makes it nice.

"If you try to play a deep sweeper to counter for the speed on one of them, you are going to run into problems. We can score from a lot of different places."

No time was the Fox Chapel offense more needed and more efficient than it was in the second meeting against Central Catholic. In the first meeting between the section rivals, the Vikings handed Fox Chapel its first and only loss of the regular season. It was also the only time the Foxes were shut out.

That game on Sept. 21 was played in a driving rain and Central Catholic prevailed, 2-0.

"We actually controlled that game, we just didn't put anything on the net," Ingram said.

Three weeks later the teams met again. The visiting Foxes jumped on Central Catholic for four goals en route to a 4-1 win.

"Leading up to the second Central game, we had some good practices and we were prepared," Ingram said. "They were really looking forward to it. We knew after the first game that we had underperformed and in the second game they were really excited and couldn't wait for the game to start. From the opening whistle, they just went after it. The boys really came through. They had a fun night."

Fox Chapel was held to one goal or fewer only three times over a 16-game season.

"The number of guys who can attack and score goals was a big factor for our success this season," Ingram said. "If you put an extra man on one, the other one is going to make a meal of it."

Dickens is being recruited by a number of colleges including the University of Pittsburgh where he has already taken an official visit.

Even after Dickens moves on to the collegiate level, the Foxes should still be a high-scoring machine next season with Ryan and Silberg returning.


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