Gateway boys soccer season comes to close in WPIAL 1st round

Oct. 30—The Gateway boys soccer team went toe-to-toe with No. 5 Kiski Area into the second half of a WPIAL Class 3A first-round game Oct. 22 at Kiski Area before the Cavaliers netted a pair of goals to score a 2-0 victory.

Despite the setback, Gateway coach Bernie Stiles was pleased with his team's effort.

"Saturday's game reminded me of a number of games this season where we battled our hearts out," said Stiles, who saw his team, which finished tied with Penn-Trafford for third place in Section 4, cap its season at 10-8-1 overall.

"At halftime Saturday, I told the guys that Kiski was better than how they were playing and we had to expect that there were going to be adjustments on their side. We had way more throw-ins in the first half, so that was an indication of their unforced errors and them pressing. In the second half, Kiski won the throw-in battle, and that just showed how much possession they had. We didn't have any shots on goal in the second half."

Kiski scored its first goal off a corner-kick rebound, and star senior Andres Bordoy, a Memphis recruit, tallied an insurance goal for the eventual 2-0 final.

"We were banged up for that match and basically were playing with eight and a half guys by the time that game ended," Stiles said.

"But the guys didn't let that stop their effort, and I couldn't have been more proud of them."

Junior goalkeeper Jack Kweder made 11 saves in the loss.

Saturday's playoff game against the Cavaliers marked the final one in Stiles' six-year tenure with the Gators.

"For many coaches, it happens that the time frame just isn't good anymore," he said.

"The business that my wife and I run is just getting too big for me to get away in the afternoon and also get away for the two-a-day practices. The commitment that goes into coaching a high school team, we and the other coaches aren't there just for the matches and training sessions. We're planning things and we need proper time to do that. There also is the offseason. It's not just a couple of months anymore. Plus, we have a 5-year-old, and he's happier when I am coaching him than when I am watching him play. So that will be another time commitment away, as well, along with a U16 Monroeville team."

Emotions were high with Stiles after the playoff game as he knew the end was there and had moments to reflect on the players and how the team dedicated themselves to being a competitive unit and winning.

"I had come to peace with it for a few weeks and felt I was prepared for it, so I didn't expect the emotions to be that strong after the game," Stiles said.

Stiles noted that senior midfielder Brendan Strawser, who led the Gators with 25 goals and 16 assists this season and became the Gateway boys all-time leading scorer with 49 goals, played this season with a leg injury that had its genesis in his sophomore year.

"He played this year with pain but was still able to contribute the way he did and dedicate himself to his team and his teammates," Stiles said.

Senior forward Colton Corrie finished his final varsity season with 18 goals and three assists, while sophomore midfielder Nick LoCoco produced 12 goals and 10 assists.

Also providing an offensive punch for the Gators were junior forward Blake Marsh (10 goals, 10 assists) and sophomore defender James LoCoco (6 goals, 4 assists).

Kweder recorded three shutouts and finished with 78 total saves.

Stiles' postgame emotion Saturday, he said, also came from thinking about players such as senior midfielder Daniel Garner.

"With Daniel, it's like coaching a professional player with how he approaches the game, the questions he asks, and how I was able to communicate with him."

Stiles also noted some of the players on the team who didn't get as much playing time as some of the others but still worked hard in practice and helped the team succeed.

Strawser and Garner were voted to the Section 4 Finest 15, while Corrie earned section honorable-mention laurels.

Along with Strawser, Garner and Corrie, fellow seniors Jordan Rutter, Ryan Rossi, Jacob Wood, Daniel Codeluppi, Zack Meshanko and Cole Plaskon wrapped up their high school careers.

Gateway compiled a 28-24-1 record over the past three seasons and qualified for the playoffs three years in a row for the first time since 1986-88.

Stiles said with the returning players and others who will have the opportunity to step up, the team is set up for success heading into next year.

"Progressively over the past six years, we had to change the culture and perception of this team from an also-ran who would make the playoffs every so often to one that expects to make the playoffs and concentrates on what seed it will get," Stiles said.

"This year's seniors had a lot to do with maintaining those expectations. They played with confidence and a strong understanding of the game. It was easy to coach them and switch things up. They showed a lot of professionalism with how they went about doing their jobs."

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .