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Sewickley Academy soccer begins new era with new coach

September 16, 2018

Sewickley Academy’s boys soccer team begins a new era this fall.

Nathan Richter takes over as coach from James Boone, who stepped down after six seasons and five PIAA Class A championship appearances. Richter, who has coached soccer for more than a decade, is a coach with FC Pittsburgh and instructed some of the current Panthers players before.

“It’s been a great transition for me. The boys on the team are quality people, first and foremost. (Athletic director) Win Palmer and (assistant athletic director) Heather Border have been exceptional in transitioning me. It’s been really smooth,” Richter said. “I’ve coached a lot of these boys and had the chance to work with a lot of them prior to coming to Sewickley. I went to a couple games last year to see them play, too.”

The Panthers finished 9-9-1 overall last year after a 2-1 loss to Riverview in the WPIAL Class A playoffs. They reached the state title match the previous five years and won two titles.

“When you come to a school like Sewickley Academy, there are lofty goals to achieve great things. I think Coach Boone set that precedent,” Richter said. “We have some real talent and quality players. I like some of the youth that’s coming up, too. It’s a good chance for me to work with these boys and for them to leave their own mark.”

The players are eager to learn a new system and work their way back to contender status.

“We do have a lot of seniors that have a lot of experience, so it’s good to have that on the field,” senior Alex Gordon said. “We have a system we are figuring out right now. It’s really exciting to see us developing as a team and working together. I think we’re going to do some special things this year.

“It was super upsetting to lose in the first round of playoffs last year. I think that’ll just make us hungrier for success this season. I think that’ll be the key for our drive.”

At forward, Rees Blaylock and Jack Wentz lead the way, and Ben Mohan and Max Belt will see time. Max Reyes, Nick Joseph, Bobby Serafin and Gordon are in the midfield. Kieran Ragoowansi and Josh Chico are in the rotation, as well. On defense, Jack Duggan and John DelVecchio are in the middle, while Cole Rychel and Jackson Coles are on the outside. Alessandro Cocovich could see minutes, too.

Brandon Thompson and Donald Belt are in a competition for the starting goalkeeper job.

“We feel comfortable either way we go. I think it’ll be one of our strongest positions,” Richter said. “They’ll make my job difficult all throughout the year. We welcome those kinds of situations. Good competition doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Richter was happy to retain assistant coach David Riordan.

“He’s a great coach and a great person. He knows the boys better than anybody,” Richter said. “It’s a close-knit team. As soon as I arrived on campus, you could tell they cared a lot about each other and a lot about what happens. We just want them to play their role and play it really well. They have been doing that. It’s really a team-oriented approach. I believe that team strength will see us through a lot of difficult times and moments and allow us to feed off them and be successful.

“We want to win the WPIAL and put our name into the hat with the state tournament. I feel we are talented enough. I think it’s a matter of putting the pieces in the correct way in order to be successful.”

Gordon is happy with what he’s seen from the team.

“Seeing how far we’ve come in just the first week of practice is exciting,” he said. “Playing games and learning from the experiences we encounter in games will help us grow even more. Just seeing where we are now is encouraging.”

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