Minerva ensures ’Cats’ winless season

STEUBENVILLE – In 23 years of existence at Minerva High School, the soccer program’s winningest coach is just in his fourth year leading the team.

“And now we’re one game better than we were last year,” said Lions head coach David Gotschall.

Minerva improved to 12-5 with a 7-0 win against Edison in a Division II sectional game at Harding Stadium on Tuesday. The loss dropped the Wildcats to a winless season. They finished 0-18.

“We progressed throughout the season and we did improve,” said Edison head coach Chris Bomely. “We didn’t have any wins but we kept trying and kept coming out and playing hard.”

Edison graduates three seniors (forward Travis Bell, forward Zac Sansone and midfielder Armando Sinicropi), who went above and beyond their call of duty to motivate the team.

A task that wasn’t easy fighting through the losses.

“The senior leadership really was able to get a handle on the team and really fire everybody up,” Bomely said. “Those guys would keep them trying every day in practice and that transferred over to the games.”

The Lions led 4-0 at halftime and attempted 44 shots in the game. Aaron Stanik scored, while Phillip Blackburn added two. Tyler Stewart, the team and the area’s leading scorer, netted four goals.

The junior now has 30 on the season and 88 for his relatively short career.

“I just have a lot of my teammates helping me out by getting me through balls,” Stewart said. “I’ve been lucky to put it in the net a lot.”

Minerva lost 11 seniors from a year ago on a team that surprised many in the tournament by advancing to the regional semifinals.

“I’m glad we can still get goals even though we lost those guys from last year’s team,” Stewart said.

Blackburn, Alec Mueller and Justin Campbell had assists. All 21 Lions players saw playing time on Tuesday.

“I enjoy doing that,” Gotschall said. “The starters don’t like it but some of these guys won’t play again for the rest of the year

“We’re a young team, but good ball-handling team. We spread the ball out quite a bit.”

Josh Wioka, a sophomore, made 20 saves for Edison.

“They came out here and played until the last whistle,” Bomely said. “They really gave everything they had out there.”

Ten Wildcats are either freshman and sophomores, so there is some positivity for the program’s future.

“They all got a lot of playing time,” Bomely said.

“They just have to keep improving everyday to be ready for next year.”