SV's LaValle gets soccer all-state honor

January 6, 2021 Cranberry Local Sports

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Seneca Valley senior Zack LaValle celebrates a goal during a state playoff win over State College in November. LaValle was recently named to the all-state boys soccer team.

Zack LaValle paced the Seneca Valley boys soccer squad in points this season.

The Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association viewed him as more than simply a team leader.

LaValle was named all-state last month and is one of the 13 WPIAL players who made the 62-player field.

“There's a lot of quality guys on that list,” said LaValle, a senior forward who scored 14 goals and had eight assists in leading the Raiders to WPIAL and PIAA titles. “It's a great honor to be chosen.”

LaValle showed promise the last couple of years. His total of three goals and six assists in 2019 was not indicative of his ability. Many of the team's scoring chances fell to forward Luke Rupert last year, but his 19 goals and eight assists were lost to graduation.

SV needed players to step up this fall. Several did, with LaValle leading the way.

“Losing Luke was a big loss for us,” he said, “but I was prepared for (more scoring opportunities). My goal was to reach double digits in goals.”

Opposing teams learned early in the season that LaValle was a player who could change the complexion of a game. Aside from his own statistics, the heat he placed on goalkeepers undoubtedly led to goals from multiple teammates.

“He started out on fire and just kept going for us,” said Raiders' coach George Williams. “He was a scoring threat throughout the season.

“He was a captain for us and a three-year letter-winner.”

SV saw its record fall to 3-1-1 with a loss to Butler Sept. 24. It would be the only time the Raiders tasted defeat on their way to a 17-1-1 finish.

“That feeling we had after losing to Butler, we didn't want to feel it again,” LaValle said.

LaValle capped the run, and his scholastic career, by scoring in double overtime to hand the Raiders their first-ever state title with a 2-1 win over Neshaminy in Hershey Nov. 21.

Earlier in the game, he assisted on teammate Nathan Eastgate's goal that tied the game, 1-1.

“For Zack to get an assist and a goal in his final game, in the state championship, that's an amazing story for him,” Williams said. “He was an outstanding leader on an outstanding team.”

“It was a team effort,” added LaValle, who aims to play in college and is weighing his options. “For me, there's no better way to go out.”

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Derek Pyda

Derek Pyda

- Graduated from Connellsville High School in 1996
- Graduated from Clarion University in 2000 with a Bachelors in Communications
- Have also written for Clarion News (Clarion, PA) and the Herald-Standard (Uniontown, PA)
- Started at the Butler Eagle on April 2, 2002
- Interests include sports, history and geography