Western Wayne boys win one, lose one at 7th annual event

Western Wayne's boys varsity soccer team traveled to Scranton this past weekend to play in the Jamie Kotula Memorial Tournament.

The seventh annual event, which attracted teams from all over the area, was hosted by Marywood University. It serves many as a final tune-up for the Lackawanna League season, which starts in earnest this week.

Coach Matt Fitzsimmons' squad opened the tourney in fine fashion, dealing North Pocono a 4-3 setback.

However, the local lads then ran into a buzzsaw and suffered a 7-0 shutout at the hands of Lakeland.

“We're a young team and we're learning as we go,” Coach Fitzsimmons said.

“I'm very happy with how we played against North Pocono, especially in the first half. There are definitely some things we need to clean up, but we'll get there.”

Western Wayne's first league match of the season was postponed due to rain, so the Wildcats are looking to open up Thursday on the road at Scranton Prep.

“I don't have any illusions,” said Coach Fitzsimmons. “They're the best team in the league. But, if we can keep the right frame of mind and not get down early, we can compete with them.”

Weather permitting, this Division II battle will get underway at 4:15 p.m. in the Electric City.

Up & Down

Western Wayne wasted no time in jetting out to a big early lead in its match versus North Pocono.

The Wildcats hammered home four first half goals, but then had to hold on for dear life as the Trojans staged a furious comeback.

“It got a little bit nerve-wracking there at the end,” Coach Fitzsimmons said. “North Pocono had a direct kick with 18 seconds left in regulation that could have tied it, but our keeper really came up big.”

Gary Geinitz is that keeper, the sophomore heir apparent to a position held by Jake Tinklepaugh the last few seasons.

Despite his tender years, Geinitz is already battle-tested and steady. He plays year-round and also attends private lessons during the off-season.

Geinitz saved his best for last Saturday morning, diving to his left to deflect a potential game-tying goal and preserve the win over North Pocono.

“He's been phenomenal,” Coach Fitzsimmons said.

“Gary is really earning his stripes. He's getting more confident every day. He is very competitive and has a great work ethic.”

Offensively, Western Wayne was paced by the aggressive play of Cameron Johnson, Leonard Johnson and Jamie Ashby.

Cam blasted home a pair of goals, while Leonard and Jamie added one apiece.

“That's a pretty good group right there,” Coach Fitzsimmons said. “Those are three kids who can really put the ball in the net.

“I'm expecting big things from Cameron, Leonard and Jamie this season.”

Leadership

While Western Wayne's offense was hitting on all cylinders in the Kotula opener, one talented young defender was earning high marks from his mentor.

Alex Amorine is still just a sophomore, but he's already turning heads with his stellar play at sweeper. Amorine isn't physically imposing, but he is skilled and fearless.

“He's just tough as nails,” Coach Fitzsimmons said.

“Alex is the smallest kid on the field most matches, but he definitely doesn't play like it. He's a solid all-round player.

“Alex is calm and collected under pressure. He's fast and smart and has a real nose for the ball. He's a pleasure to coach.”

On the Horizon

Unfortunately for local fans, Western Wayne wasn't able to capitalize on the momentum created in that win over North Pocono.

The Wildcats went up against Lakeland in their second match and took one right on the chin.

“Lakeland is a very good team, but we just didn't play that well either,” Coach Fitzsimmons said. “They're very deep and have a ton of scoring options. I'm hoping we learned a lesson from that one. We lost focus and needed to re-group.”

The local lads will get that chance in the coming days. Following the Prep match this afternoon, the 'Cats return home on Tuesday to take on Elk Lake. After that, they hit the road again for a Thursday game versus Holy Cross.

That one is scheduled for a 4:15 p.m. start.

“We really have to be patient and take things one day a time,” said Coach Fitzsimmons. “This is a young team, so we need to focus on being competitive and getting a little bit better every day.”