Roster turnover no problem for SV boys soccer
Raiders secure 10th straight playoff berth
Eagle Staff Writer
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November 11, 2017
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Seneca Valley senior midfielder Caleb Cekella (10) was a major contributor on both ends of the field this season for the Raiders.

JACKSON TWP — A lack of returning starters doesn’t necessarily lead to a lack of success.

Seneca Valley’s boys soccer team was a good example of that this fall.

The Raiders had just one starter coming back — midfielder Drew Balla — from last year’s 19-2-1 squad that reached the WPIAL final and state quarterfinals.

“I really wasn’t focused on that because I knew we had a lot of talented players returning,” said veteran Raider coach George Williams, “but we knew that we’d have to put a brand new lineup together. It fell together pretty quickly because of the talent we had.”

Seneca Valley began the season 4-2-1 overall and 3-2 in Section 1-4A play before securing a 2-2 tie with defending and eventual WPIAL champion North Allegheny Sept. 26. That result spurred a 6-1-1 finish to the regular season. A 1-0 victory at Butler Oct. 10 earned for the Raiders second place in a very competitive section.

“We were very strong from 18 to 18 (yards from each net) this year and were able to create a lot of scoring chances for ourselves,” said Williams. “Near the end of the season, we started putting more of them away.”

The Raiders scored a 1-0 win over Taylor Allderdice in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs before falling to Pine-Richland in the quarterfinals via shootout, finishing the season with an overall record of 11-4-2.

Despite a high degree of turnover from a year ago, the Raiders proved they still belong in the conversation of the top handful of Class 4A teams in the WPIAL. They have now qualified for the postseason 10 consecutive seasons, going 17-12 in the playoffs in that span.

Senior midfielder Louis Newell paced SV this year with 10 goals and added three assists. Junior forward Jackson Wotus was solid in a supporting scoring role with four goals and five assists.

Senior Caleb Cekella contributed five goals and five assists and was also a positive factor on the defensive end. Senior midfielders Balla and Wes Bodnar played key roles in the run to the playoffs while junior goalkeeper Will Gallagher had five shutouts and stopped 87 percent of the shots he faced with 104 saves.