Fox Chapel boys up to new challenge in Section 1-4A
So far this century, the WPIAL boys soccer playoffs have included Fox Chapel.
And despite being realigned into a tougher section, the Foxes don’t mind the extra degree of difficulty.
Fox Chapel, which has made the playoffs every season starting in 2000, is up to the challenge of the new WPIAL realignment.
After spending the last two seasons in Section 3-4A, the Foxes have been shifted to Section 1-4A where long-time powers such as defending champion North Allegheny, Pine-Richland and others reside.
Fox Chapel finished in fourth place last season with a record of 7- 5 in the section, 9-9 overall and was eliminated by Peters Township in the first round.
“It wasn’t a bad year by any means,” said 13th-year Foxes coach Erik Ingram. “I think this year the team, as a whole, has a lot more ambition and has set its sights a little higher, which is good. We’re going to be in a stronger section, and we’re going to need that.”
Like last year, the top four teams from each section will make the playoffs.
“I think this is the only section where you can’t pick the top three or four teams,” Ingram said. “There’s going to be two, possibly three teams from our section that won’t make the playoffs.”
Seniors Alex Marotte and Alex Cooper return, along with all-WPIAL players Zane Ingram and Josh Miller. Both are now juniors.
A major contribution is expected from junior Tommy Tsai.
Sophomore Clayton Humbert, who finished strong last season, will be in goal for the Foxes and will be looking to add to the tradition of strong Fox Chapel goalkeepers.
The players share their head coach’s confidence and expectations.
“We want to go back to Highmark Stadium,” said Zane Ingram, referring to the WPIAL finals site. “It’s been three years. We should have been back there, honestly, two years ago. The next two years, our window’s open.”
Fox Chapel lost a considerable number of seniors from last year’s team, but the younger Ingram feels a number of players have stepped up in camp in preparation for section competition.
“We added weightlifting in summer camp and more conditioning,” Zane Ingram said. “We only had four out of 43 people that didn’t make the fitness test. We really can’t take any games off in this section.”
Zane Ingram credited a strong youth program in the Fox Chapel area for the program’s lengthy playoff streak.
Fox Chapel will begin the season against long-time rival Plum at the Plum tournament Sept. 1.
The section grind begins Sept. 4 at Pine-Richland, and the Foxes will play their home opener Sept. 6 against Shaler.
“We have a lot of guys who are really ready to go and do some big things for this team,” coach Ingram said. “I think this team has found another gear. We had expectations of this team coming into camp, and they’ve already surpassed that.”
Fox Chapel has won five WPIAL boys soccer titles and has been runner-up five times.
The program owns 17 section championships since garnering the first in 1964.