ECC’s Weaver leads PA to first soccer win

Staff Writer

OLEAN, NY - Elk County Catholic head boys’ soccer T.J. Weaver coach was determined to lead the Pennsylvania all-stars their first win at Sunday’s Corporate Cup NY/PA Soccer Showcase held at Bradner Stadium. His mission was accomplished as the Keystone Staters picked up a 4-1 win, their first in the four years of the competition.

All four goals came in the first half, two from the PA MVP Bradford senior Colton Swanson who opened the scoring just under six minutes into the game. His Owl teammate senior Isaiah Pingie made it 2-0 with a goal 7:34 into the opening half. New York pulled within a goal on a score from Jack Snyder a senior from Ellicottville but Swanson tallied his second with 19:45 left in the half. For all intent and purpose, Curwensville sophomore Jacob Mullins sealed the deal with a goal with 12 seconds left before two minutes were added to end the half.

Playing with a three-goal lead was something Weaver relished as goalkeepers senior Jack Schmidt of Bradford and Warren junior Ian Darling pitched a shutout in the second half.

“It’s a lot easier. A one-goal lead in soccer is hard to keep. [We] worried about the one slip goal going in but luckily we didn’t. Our keepers kept us in the game. In the long run, we came here to do a job and we got the job done today,” he said noting his entire team “gave a great effort.”

The PA coach felt Swanson not only came up big but allowed his team to dominate in the first half where they could have scored at least four more goals if not for the play of New York junior goaltender Keegan McKnight of Genesee Valley who finished with an incredible 14 saves. “Colton played amazingly with two guys on him the whole day. It’s what you get when you have special players like that,” Weaver said while also praising the play of the sophomore Mullins. “That kids going to be a player. He’s only a sophomore. The nice thing is his coach Phil assistant Esposito) is here from DuBois Central. He was a spark for the team.”

Weaver was happy with the play of everyone in a black jersey Sunday and sees a bright future for Pennsylvania soccer. “In every aspect, every kid contributed in their own way. I’m very pleased with all of them. This is a good group of kids. We’re young (11 underclassmen). It’s good for soccer it’s good for the area. The Big 30 for football has been there for years and this is starting to turn around,” he said.

Seniors Clay Zilkofski of Johsonburg and Mason Feikls of Kane suited up PA as did Feikls Wolves sophomore teammate Josh Greville and St. Marys Junior Vini Nunes who received the Pennsylvania Sportsmanship Award. “That kid's all heart. He’s the nicest kid you ever want to meet. I can’t say more about Vinnie,” Weaver said of the Dutch player.
While a few of the 13 seniors are moving on to play in college it was the last game for most. Weaver was happy how they ended their career. “This has to be a great feeling. Their last senior game in high school was a win. For a lot it was a loss since they didn’t win a state championship so now there last real game is a win so it’s good for all of us,” he said.

The journey to Pennsylvania’s first win began last October with the opening tryouts. The entire experience was special for Weaver who becomes the first PA winning coach. “Almost a year we’ve been doing this. Finally, today, when the game came the nerves for the coaches, were just as much as the kids. It was just pure excitement. Kris (Linderman) and Dave (Talbot) put a great show on and we were just happy to be part of it. We look for PA to be good in the years to come,” Weaver said of the experience, the future, and the job the co-organizers Linderman and Talbot put forth.
The PA girls capped off a Sunday sweep with a 3-2 win over the girls from the Empire State.