Boys' Soccer: W. Allegheny scores high in chemistry
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Coaches always talk about the importance of team chemistry.
With the West Allegheny High School boys soccer team, the proof lies in the results.
The Indians took a 7-0 record, including a 4-0 mark in Section 5-AA before Thursday night's game against Quaker Valley. They had outscored opponents, 30-2, in those seven games.
"I didn't expect this [in 2012] as we lost eight seniors from last year's team," said Kevin Amos, who is in his eighth year as West Allegheny's coach.
He coached the 2011 team to a record of 15-3-1 and into the quarterfinals of the WPIAL Class AA tournament.
"I thought we might surprise some people because we are young, and they can play," the coach said. "But we have this team chemistry, and all of them have bought into the idea of being unselfish.
"We do have one guy who has scored a lot of goals, but this whole team is playing well because they are unselfish, and they believe in each other. And they like hanging out with each other."
What's also helped: The Indians hone their skills on a year-round basis.
"A lot of these guys have worked their way up through the youth organizations playing soccer," Amos said. "These guys play year-round, and they may not be the biggest or the fastest players, but they really do play well together."
The team's marquee player has been Collin Wurst, a 5-foot-8, 140-pound sophomore forward, who had scored 12 goals and dished out two assists in West Allegheny's first seven games.
"Collin is a very intelligent player, and he goes where he needs to be," Amos said. "He complements the other two men we have up front. He has great skills with great vision and is a smart player."
Wurst is paired on a line with Michael Cummings, a 5-9, 140-pound sophomore forward who has scored once this season and has five assists, and Cooper Amos, a 5-10, 150-pound freshman who also has scored a goal and has four assists.
"I didn't expect this fast of a start," said Wurst, who scored four goals this month in a 15-0 victory against Carrick. "But we've been playing together as a group for a long time, and we can anticipate each other's moves. That's important.
"My teammates have been setting me up, and I wouldn't be able to talk about what's happened if they hadn't done that. We've been playing together since we were 7 years old, and we work pretty well together."
Talent is fairly evenly distributed among the four classes represented on the Indians team with six seniors, five juniors, 10 sophomores and three freshmen on the 24-man roster.
"Coach [Amos] said last year after our [2-1 playoff loss to Ringgold] that the underclassmen would really have to step up," Wurst said. "He said we'd have to carry the team, and that this year and next year we'd have older and stronger players and that would make us better."
Amos, however, is just as quick to praise the Indians' defense and the stellar effort he's received from Spencer Wolfe, a 5-11, 150-pound junior who is in his first season as West Allegheny's goalkeeper.
In the Indians' seven victories, Wolfe has recorded five shutouts.
"I believe that it takes a good defense to set up a good offense," Amos said. "We haven't been giving our opponents many opportunities to score."
Keeping a lot of pressure off Wolfe has been center back Zach Graziani, a 6-1, 160-pound junior who also is a place-kicker on West Allegheny's 3-0 football team.
"Zach is a great player who is big, strong and fast," said Amos. "He's missed a couple of games with a hip flexor injury, but we expect him back this week. But we have been playing well without him."
Midfielders Eric Jackson, a 5-10, 155-pound senior; Brent Perry, a 6-2, 170-pound senior; and Adam Larue, a 5-9, 135-pound senior, have been just as instrumental in keeping the ball away from Wolfe in the Indians' end and pressuring the opposing goalie, Amos said.
That could prove crucial to West Allegheny's hopes to win the section title and qualify for the WPIAL playoffs.
First Published September 21, 2012 12:00 am