Tuesday, August 27, 2019 | 5:05 PM
The Springdale boys soccer team had a big season last fall, and if everything goes right, they could accomplish bigger things this year.
A year after going 15-4-1, the Dynamos return their entire starting lineup except for goalkeeper Mike Zolnierczyk, the Valley News Dispatch Boys Athlete of the Year.
Seniors Mike Mitchell (14 goals, 11 assists), Ephraim Duku (eight goals, eight assists), Alexander Barch (six goals, three assists) and Matt Taliani (five goals) return to lead a team that scored 55 goals last year and allowed only eight.
“The expectations are higher for us this year because we are returning 10 players,” Springdale coach Cesareo Sanchez said. “But we’re stronger, we’re more experienced and our fitness is better. My coaches and the players have high expectations for themselves this year.”
Despite the loss of Zolnierczyk, who recorded 14 shutouts last season, the Dynamos have a lot going for them.
Nine of their 15 wins came by two goals or more, and five came by four goals or more.
They excelled on both ends, but Sanchez believes they can take their offense to another level.
“I feel like we just need to play the same style of soccer but with a little more intensity,” Sanchez said. “Last year, we didn’t score as many goals as we wanted to, but we had a lot of shutouts. This year, we have to step up and score more goals, and I think that will help us accomplish our goals.
That doesn’t mean the Dynamos don’t have to worry about replacing Zolnierczyk. Thus far, Sanchez has been impressed by sophomore Andrew Haus, the likely successor.
The entire defense in front of Haus will be returning.
“(Mike) was a good goalie, but Andrew is gonna step up this year,” Taliani said. “He’s looked really good in practice. So I’m excited about what he’ll do in the first game.”
The Dynamos have made deep runs in the playoffs the past two seasons. Two years ago, they reached the WPIAL Class A championship game but lost to North Catholic, 2-0. Last season, Springdale lost 1-0 to Avonworth in the semifinals.
This group hopes to use those losses as motivation.
“I think after losing in that semifinal last year and losing in the championship the year before that, we know what that feeling is like and we know we don’t want to do it again,” Mitchell said. “So I think just going through that experience, we can use that.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .