The Villa Angela-St. Joseph soccer team had a memorable 2013 that included an NCL White championship and a sectional semifinals victory.
Vikings coach K.C. Petraitis is convinced there are even more memories to come this fall with an experienced and talented group.
VASJ finished 13-3-1 last season, but it was the final loss that has served as motivation for the past 10 months. The Vikings’ 2013 season ended in the sectional finals with a 3-2 double overtime loss to Oberlin.
Chad Porter gave the Vikings a 1-0 lead at halftime against Oberlin, only to see the Phoenix score the next two goals and take a 2-1 lead midway through the second half. Flint Porter tied the game for VASJ and forced the extra session before Oberlin was able to win it in the second OT.
With the Porter brothers back as well as Jack Gallagher, Danny Cervenik, Danny Gail and a promising freshman class, Petraitis is exuding confidence for good reason when talking about the 2014 Vikings.
“We have increased our strength of schedule to include teams like St. Edward and Archbishop Hoban and we feel like we have the skill on this team to take the step to the next level,” Petraitis said. “The strength of the team is no doubt having players who can score. We have kids who can find the back of the net. And when you can attack and be diverse with four or five scorers like I feel we have, it puts pressure on the defense.”
The quick maturation and contribution of a strong incoming freshman class that includes Matt Bowen, Dylan Hoddinott and Melanie Mitchell will be a key to this season’s success according to Petraitis.
The team has goals, including defending the NCL White title and making a deeper run in the postseason, and last year’s experience can only help.
“We have a very talented freshman class that will have to learn quickly and be ready to contribute right away, and the returning players took a lot from that loss in the postseason to Oberlin, so together we feel pretty good about the program right now,” Petraitis said.
VASJ did not have enough girls to field a girls soccer team this fall, so four female student-athletes will play for the boys team.
The Vikings open the season Aug. 21 at Cuyahoga Heights.