CLARKS SUMMIT — The Abington Heights boys soccer team advanced to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 3A playoffs in 2014 and, with many core players returning, the Comets could be poised for even more postseason success this year.
“We have a pretty good nucleus back,” Abington Heights head coach Steve Klingman said. “I think our depth will be better. At the end of last year, I was probably only using four or five guys off the bench. This year, I’m hoping we’re 20 or so players deep at the varsity level.”
Junior Pat Beatty, a first-team Lackawanna League selection, returns at forward; seniors Colin Klingman, a first-time Lackawanna League selection, John McGarry and Nick Skierkowski return as starting midfielders; seniors Spencer Atkins and Evan Phillips, a second-time Lackawanna League selection, are back on defense; and sophomore Jackson Danzig returns in goal. Senior Bradley Sopinski started some games in the midfield, and seniors Noah Sirianni, Brooks Houck, and Lorran Rodrigues saw significant time in the midfield.
“We’re probably going to be moving people around to different spots,” Klingman said.
The Comets must replace forward Zach Bird, midfielders Pat Lenahan and Spencer Houck and defender Jonathan Galaydick due to graduation.
Other returning players who may have increased roles this year include junior midfielder Austin Catania, junior defender Spencer Gilbert and junior forwards Jonathan Rickwood and Colin McIntyre.
According to Klingman, there young players who also might contribute heavily to the team are sophomores Evan Florey, Liam Neary, Dan Muller, Dominic Angelicola, Fred Hickman and freshman Luke Abdalla.
“I’m expecting some good stuff out of that group this year,” he said. “Last year, they were in uniform and played a limited amount. This year, some of these guys will be getting a lot of minutes.”
Klingman is hopeful the team’s experience will be one of its biggest strengths.
“We have 11 seniors,” he said. “We’re counting on those guys for leadership. They need to set the tone for the rest of the kids.”
Klingman expects Delaware Valley, North Pocono, Scranton, Scranton Prep, Valley View and Wallenpaupack to provide the toughest competition within Lackawanna League play.
“It’s a good, competitive league,” Klingman said. “We just have to play good soccer; it’s as simple as that. I tend to concentrate on the defensive side of the ball because we don’t want to have to score three of four goals to win a game.”
The Comets participated in a scrimmage on Aug. 22 at Pleasant Valley High School and are scheduled for another scrimmage Aug. 26 at Moravian Academy.
“The two scrimmages really prepare us for the season,” Klingman said. “They’re 40 minute games and we play about four or five games each day.”
Klingman and assistant coach Jason Jackson will enter their seventh year coaching the high school team. They previously coached the middle school team for four years.
“He’s done an incredible job with the kids,” Klingman said of Jackson. “It’s really important that the (head) coach and assistant coach are on the same wavelength. He adds so much to the program.”
Abington Heights will begin its Lackawanna League season on at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5 at West Scranton.