HUGHESTOWN — Pat O’Boyle was finally seeing his years of work pay off. Pittston Area’s boys soccer numbers were up. And the results were there early on.
However, the past two season have seen the Patriots rattled with injuries. Things only got worse once the 2015 campaign started.
“The injury bug got us again,” O’Boyle said. “We started with 18 guys and now we’re struggled to field an 11-man team.”
Pittston Area senior star Colin Tracy tore his left ACL last season and missed the entire year. Just two games into this season, Tracy injured his right ACL and is out for the season. Fellow senior Vince Shea also has a knee injury that will most likely keep him out of the remainder of the season.
The biggest blow was losing Tracy. The Pittston Area midfielder was expected to the be catalyst the past two seasons.
“He has speed that we don’t have anywhere else,” O’Boyle said. “If you make a mistake he’ll take full advantage of it. It’s not the way you want to play but that’s what we have to do sometimes.”
This is the second straight season Pittston Area has been dealt serious injury blows. At the Patriots’ most recent game, O’Boyle had to play with 10 guys at one point because he didn’t have a sub.
“We’ve done this the last couple years,” he said. “For the upperclassmen it’s kind of normal.”
O’Boyle pulled sophomore Shea Sims from the goalkeeper position to get him on the field. Now, Kyle Mlodzienski has taken that role. As far as play on the field, the Patriots will now rely on some younger players, as well as a pair of seniors, to help offset the injuries.
Seniors Nick Terpak and Nick Allardyce have the most experience on the Patriot squad. Sophomore quartet Mike McKitish, Dominic Stella and Nick Barbieri will provide the most punch.
In 2014, the injuries led the Patriots to finish 2-11-1. This season hasn’t started much better. Pittston Area has started 0-4 in Wyoming Valley Conference play.
Most recently, the Patriots fell to Lake-Lehman, 6-0, on Thursday. Against Wyoming Area on Monday, the Patriots were shut out, 4-0. In the season opener, however, the Patriots gave Hazleton Area a run. The Patriots ended up falling in that game, 2-1.
In the Wyoming Valley Confernce 3A, Wyoming Valley West is still the cream of the crop. The Spartans feature many starters returning to the pitch. During the regular season, WVW’s divisional opponents are Pittston Area and Hazleton Area, which combined for just six wins in 28 matches last year.
“Against those teams we have to keep enforcing playing hard and playing with pride,” O’Boyle said. “We don’t have the bodies, but that doesn’t mean we are going to lay down.”
Pittston Area will host a senior night on Wednesday, Oct. 13 at the Primary Center in Hughestown. The Patriots will host GAR.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick