As the 2012 soccer season began with Port Allegany having to replace all four starters on defense, head coach Aaron Clark wasn’t quite sure how good the unit was going to be.
After his Gators notched back-to-back shutouts, taking care of Olean Archbishop Walsh 3-0 last Thursday before surprising Elk County Catholic 4-0 on Monday afternoon, it looks like they’re exceeding expectations.
“They’re playing great soccer,” Clark said. “Charlie Kysor, Aaron Majot, Logan Hutton and Garrett Talkington started the last game in the defensive backfield and they did great. Trent Miller started the other game. As a collective group, they’re doing just fine.
“In particular, Charlie Kysor playing sweeper. I think both (assistant coach) Mr. Lawton and I are both ecstatic with Charlie’s progress at sweeper. When we played Ridgway and Archbishop Walsh, even against ECC, (goalkeeper) Ben Edgell didn’t have to do much at all. They were easy games for Ben.”
Edgell stopped seven shots against the Eagles and 11 versus the Crusaders to pick up both wins.
Meanwhile, the offense is in midseason form, with the trio of Scotty Brookens, Sam Kysor, and Tyler Kittilson leaving opponents wondering who to stop. Brookens, Kysor, and Eli Knapp each scored against Walsh, while Kittilson tallied a hat trick and Brookens netted his team-leading ninth goal of the young season at ECC.
“They’re right where we knew they would be and could be,” Clark said. “Against ECC, we jumped out 4-0 in the first half and then kind of took the gas off. I subbed down a lot in the second half. I think we just completely took ECC by surprise. It was kind of nice to go and be able to do that against ECC. In the past they’ve – I don’t want to say bullied us, but had their way with us.”
Now 4-1, the Gators have three more road games this week, facing Brockway (Wednesday), Smethport (Thursday) and Saint Marys (Saturday) before finally returning to their home field next Tuesday for a match against Coudersport.
“I’m honestly very pleased with where we’re at,” Clark said. “If we can walk out of this monster week at 6-2, I think we’re setting ourselves up nicely for the rest of the season.”
After a rough start to the season, the Port Allegany girls soccer team picked up its first win on Monday night, dropping Smethport 5-2 on the Hubbers’ home turf to reclaim the ‘Ten Mile Trophy.’ Somer Buchsenschutz tallied a hat trick to take over the Gators’ scoring lead from fellow sophomore Lynae Delacour, who made her presence known with a goal and two assists, and Jessica Achar added a goal and an assist to cap the scoring.
“She controlled the middle and became a very dangerous player,” Port coach Travis Cowburn wrote of Delacour. “They have to respect somebody who has speed, control and the ability to score from anywhere. She and Somer are developing into a fine tandem.”
Laura Fox stopped four shots to pick up her first win in the Gator net, while Cowburn noted that sisters Cheyenne and Erika Helo “anchored the defense.”
“They are learning to work so well together and it takes the pressure off the other girls. I appreciate their maturity with and without the ball,” he wrote. “The mid-field play of Gabrielle Drabert and McKenna Johnson dictated the flow of the game from the outside in and opened up Lynae to do her thing. Very proud of all. I was especially proud of the bench players. They were able to do what I asked of them in sparing minutes.”
After making the long trip south to Brockway for a Thursday-evening game, the Gators (1-4) return home for an 11 a.m. kick against Kane on Saturday before heading to Elk County twice next week for matches against Ridgway and Saint Marys.
With the local high school golf season underway, the teams from Port Allegany are once again hitting the road for every practice round and match. Those circumstances present a significant challenge, but even if team success is tough to come by, coaches Bob Raudenbush and Dave Roae are both still intent on continuing to teach the game.
Zach Austin is the only returning letterman on the boys’ squad, joined by fellow senior Devin Baker and newcomers Bryce Stahlman and Michael Ernst (both juniors), sophomore Alex Dynda, and freshman Andrew Rosenswie.
“We have many challenges to overcome this year,” Raudenbush wrote, “but the boys are working hard at Pine View Driving Range and look forward to improving each week.”
Junior Debby Andrus is the lone letterwinner back for the girls, with seniors Kira Nolder and Lindsay Howard and junior Kaitlyn Donnelly joining the team this year.
“She’s definitely the leader of the team,” Roae said of Andrus, who carded a team-best 56 in Monday’s 36-18 loss at Coudersport. “My other three girls are new to the sport – basically the first time they’ve been out on the course was our first match. So this year is basically a teaching and learning year due to the lack of experience. But the girls have progressed well and they’re working hard; we’ve had three or four matches now and their scores are gradually coming down. So we’re not really looking to win a lot of matches this year, but I’m looking for the girls to keep getting better and trying to lower their scores.
“Especially for girls, golf is such a great sport, and a sport they can take with them for the rest of their lives. They can play it now, and they can play it when they’re 80.”