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Playing local, The Kiski School shows its class in defeating Moon, 4-0

Photo courtesy Ed Thompson

In the season opener for both boys soccer programs, The Kiski School showed its clinical finishing prowess and talent in defeating Moon, 4-0, at the JRK Memorial Classic at Pine-Richland High School on Saturday afternoon.

The private school located in Saltsburg, which has a long, storied soccer tradition, completes outside of the Western Pennsylvania Athletic Interscholastic League (WPIAL – PIAA’s District 7) in the Interstate Premier League, shined and made the most of their chances in the final third, as sophomore forward who was born in Senegal, scored twice, while junior midfielders Santiago Giraldo Valencia and Mateo Secaira added to the flurry to hand Moon its first loss in regular season action since 2021.

“We knew it would be tough. We knew it would be challenging. It was great for our fitness,” Kiski School’s seventh year coach Jonty Loukes said after the match played after one week of preseason training.

“I was, overall happy.”

After neither side could create any point blank chances, Moon nearly scored on two chances at the half-hour mark.

First, senior forward Davi Jansson’s close range chance on far post was stopped cold by Kiski GK Oscar De Blas Plumar.
Then, Mike Walenchok’s bending shot from 17 yards forced a stellar save from De Blas Plumar.

It took a while, but eventually Kiski’s backline and central midfielders used patience and solid technical skill to navigate through Moon’s patented high press.

The Cougars initially played direct, looking to hit the long ball to Mamadou, trying to exploit the forward’s pace and ability to get behind defenders.

“Credit to Moon, they press really high. It took a while for the boys to realize how high they were pressing,” Loukes explained.

“The boys have to understand, and adapt to the situation. What you see on the field, isn’t the same as on the sideline, and I hope they can figure these things out in a game situation.”

In the 35th minute, Moon keeper Zach Shutak came off his line to deny Mamadou after the sophomore forward broke behind the Tigers’ back line for his first legitimate chance.

Moments later, on the left side, Mamadou beat one defender with a clever move, then drove a shot past Shutak to give the Cougars the lead in the 37th minute.

“We made a few adjustments in the first half,” Loukes explained.  “And that’s why we broke through.”

Moon had the first chance after the break for the equalizer in the 47th minute when senior defender Marcus McCoy rose up for to place a header on frame off a corner kick, but but De Blas Plumar was there for his third save of the match.

Kiski’s adjustments came in starting to use the width — sending balls forward to its wingers to open things up a bit more — stretching the Moon shape.

Sure enough, with more space to maneuver, the Cougars showed its attacking strength by scoring twice in a short span.

First, Giraldo Valencia, had one defender to beat when getting his first touch 30 yards from goal, and made a few clever moves to accelerate into the edge of the box, where he drove a shot that smacked the back of the net with authority, leaving Shutak with no chance to make a save. 

Tall completed his brace in the 51st minute when the sophomore forward again blew by the Moon back line, then sent a laser net ripper for the 3-0 advantage.

For good measure, the Cougars added one more goal in the 77th minute as Mateo Secaira displayed brilliant finishing ability with a perfect placed shot into the narrowest of margins inside the right post and the outstretched arms of Shutak.

Ed Thompson Photo Gallery: The Kiski School vs Moon

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The Tigers were without a few key seniors who have been instrumental pieces of the WPIAL winning side, including senior defender Cooper Nickles and who Blake is hoping to have return soon, as both seniors are injured.

“We are a work in progress,” Blake added. “Mainly due to injuries. An all-state center back (Nickles) and our leading scorer is down right now. So, we’re missing a few pieces.”

Ultimately, the Tigers, who sent four shots on frame, forcing three dynamite saves, struggled with finishing.

“It’s a battle we’ve been having since the start of camp,” Blake said. “We played a good game through the middle.  We played some good combination, but in the attacking third, it was a lack of finishing.”

Moon, which finished unbeaten in the regular season and in WPIAL competition last season, will look to pick themselves up against Penn-Trafford on Sunday at the JRK Memorial Classic.

Kiski School will have one more WPIAL challenge on Sunday at the JRK Classic before they jump into competition — and a lot more travel — against other private prep schools, as they face North Allegheny, who defeated Ambridge, 9-0, on Saturday.

“We don’t see many WPIAL teams, but I wish we did, as it would be less travel,” Loukes quipped.

“It’s always good to play local.”

Post Match Interviews 

Jonty Loukes, Kiski School Head Coach


John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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