Meshanko, Lutz vault Thomas Jefferson boys soccer to regular-season, playoff success
Seniors A.J. Meshanko and Preston Lutz proved to be a dynamic one-two punch for the Thomas Jefferson boys soccer team during the regular season.
The dynamic duo led the Jaguars in scoring with 32 goals and 15 assists between them.
Meshanko racked up 18 goals and eight assists from his midfield position, while Lutz added 14 goals and seven assists from his forward spot.
TJ finished with an 8-3-1 record in Section 4-3A, good for third place, and advanced to the WPIAL playoffs for the fifth year in a row.
“We met our initial goal of making the WPIAL playoffs,” coach Michael “Doc” Kulish said. “Overall, we achieved great progress since the beginning of the season, and we overcame serious injuries to our starting defender, Dylan Sullivan (fractured hip), and Zach Prezioso (concussion), a midfielder. Our younger players stepped up to the fill void.”
Thomas Jefferson ended up 13-4-1 overall and drew the No. 12 seed for the 3A playoffs.
After starting out 2-2-1, the Jaguars won 11 of their final 13 contests, including five in a row prior to the playoffs. The TJ boys strung together two five-game winning streaks this season, outscored the opposition 47-21, and registered eight shutouts.
Other goal-scorers included junior midfielder Justin Finnegan, with four; sophomore midfielders Trystan Alava and Jack Sella, senior midfielders Jack Vrabel and Jeremy Marshall, senior defender Seth Thompson and freshman forward Luke Giger.
Kulish said Alava displayed solid improvement since the start of the season.
“Trystan Alava has been a very hard worker as a starting defending midfielder,” Kulish said. “He has proven to be quite strong and physical within the rules of the game.”
Marshall Richter chalked up two assists for the Jaguars, while Anthony Bekavac, Owen Richter, Nate Hopkins and Jack Wessel had one apiece.
Wessel, a junior goalkeeper, and TJ’s starting defense -- Sella, senior Ty Folk, freshman A.J. Getsy and junior Will Moran -- surrendered one-or-less goals in 13 regular-season contests.
“Jack Wessel has been exceptional in goal,” Kulish said, “with Connor Dolton and Justin Schott providing great backup. Our strong starting defenders have also greatly contributed to our eight shutouts in 18 games.”
The Jaguars defeated Blackhawk, 2-1 in overtime, in the first round, and then beat Ringgold, 2-1, in the quarterfinals.
“At this point of the season, all teams are starting out with a clean slate,” said Kulish prior to the game.