Last fall turned out to be a pretty good season for Centre County’s boys’ soccer teams with four of the five making deep postseason runs.
Philipsburg-Osceola made school history with its first-ever District 6 crown and PIAA Class AA playoff appearance. The District 6 finals had a decidedly Centre County flair, with Bellefonte in the finals and Bald Eagle Area in the semifinals. Penns Valley fell in the first round of the event.
State College placed third in its first Mid-Penn season and rolled to another District 6 Class AAA crown.
In Class AA this season, the county teams are looking to build upon last season’s momentum.
Philipsburg-Osceola (14-5-4) suffered significant losses from last year’s squad that defeated Bellefonte 3-0 in the district title game. The Mounties fell 2-0 against eventual state runner-up Lancaster Mennonite in the opening round of the PIAAs.
Shawn Inlow’s club broke nearly every defensive record, outscoring Mountain League foes 32-6 on the way to the league crown.
Inlow loses three defenders, a keeper and two strikers from that squad, but has eight starters back from last fall.
“We have good competition at every spot on the varsity roster, so we’re two deep just about everywhere and we’re very flexible and technically strong, even having graduated 12 players,” Inlow said.
“Our goals always remain the same - win the Mountain League, win the district and go as far in the PIAA playoffs as luck will allow. Last year’s team was arguably the best in school history. This year’s team has the potential to exceed it.”
Bellefonte (16-4) also took a big graduation hit, having lost eight key seniors. Still, the Red Raiders are excited coming off their first Mountain League title since 2004 and first trip to district title game.
Artyr Rose, Grant Stone, Andrew Stover and Tyler Rudloff will be counted upon for scoring.
Returning starter Jesse Neshteruk anchors the defense and will be joined by Gage Wert and Tyler Nyquist. Jake Mann and Matt Feldman are battling for the keeper spot.Grant Stone and Matt Horner will lead the midfield.
“The guys got a taste of district play lat year and are working really hard to repeat what the team did last season,” Red Raider coach Scott Martz said.
BEA (11-8-1) has a lot of holes to fill. The Eagles return just three starters - juniors Brandon Gettig, Gage Hilderbrand and Nathan Styles.
“We are looking forward to working with a group of great young men,” Eagles coach Jason Bair said.
“We are going to work as a group and strive to get better with each game.”
Penns Valley (4-14) suffered just one key loss from a year ago.
The Rams return 10 starters.
“We have a stellar group of young men and a great season to look forward to,” Rams coach Scott Case said.
State College (12-6-2) returns 10 letterwinners from last season’s district title club, which fell 2-1 to Cumberland Valley in the opening round of the PIAAs.
“I’m hoping that the experience we developed in the underclassment last year will serve us well,” Little Lion coach Danny Orton said. “We’re blessed with many quality soccer players again this year.
“The majority of returning seniors played a huge role on the varsity last year. We hope to continue to improve and see where it takes us. Retaining the district 6 title is our first priority and hopefully beyond that we can challenge at the state level.”