Saturday, September 11, 2021, TRIB-LIVE
Fox Chapel is loaded up and set to make another boys soccer run toward the WPIAL playoffs.
That’s not surprising, considering that the Foxes have made the playoffs each of the past 21 seasons.
By making a run to the Class 4A semifinals last year, Fox Chapel is experiencing its seventh decade of soccer success. The school won its first of five WPIAL titles in 1964, only the third season of the school’s existence.
This season got off to an astounding start with a 30-0 rout of Southmoreland on Sept. 4 in a tournament at Canon-McMillan. The junior varsity played the entire second half, but 16-year coach Erik Ingram was more impressed with a 3-0 victory over the host Big Macs later that day.
“I thought we had a very strong effort against Canon-Mac and showed a lot of team speed. Everybody looked good,” Ingram said. “We were supposed to play someone else in that first game. It was with pre-set games originally.”
Fox Chapel has been winning in soccer for so long that the ’64 title was won when soccer was still a spring sport.
“I think the success starts at the grass-root levels,” Ingram said. “The strong numbers start with playing good competition there, and by the time they get to high school, there is strong competition within the team.”
But the path to another postseason run won’t be easy. Stiff competition remains in Section 1-4A.
Fox Chapel started the season as the No. 5 Class 4A team in the Trib HSSN rankings.
Said Ingram: “Along with Seneca Valley, North Allegheny and Butler, Pine-Richland, Shaler and North Hills are all programs that are going to give you a good game. Winning games is as tough as it gets and that leads to us doing well in the playoffs.”
The Foxes were slated to open the section season at home against Butler on Sept. 9 before travelling to North Allegheny on Sept. 11.
Valley News Dispatch all-stars Nathan Lazzara and goalkeeper Clayton Humbert were among the five starters graduated, but Ingram has been ready to slot in replacements.
Returning is all-WPIAL standout Ashton Schutzman, who has been a key member of the team since his freshman season. The Foxes are also expecting big things from senior forward Sean Ahia and juniors George Tabor, a forward, and defender Colin Westerberg.
Ingram was pleased with the play of senior defender Ollie Smith and sophomore midfielder Colin Lazzara against Canon-McMillan.
Assisting Ingram again this season will be Nick White and Christopher Tsai. Manning the solid middle school program will be Kevin Carney and Jake Williams.
“We put a lot of work into our middle school and creating a program,” Ingram said. “We’ve got a couple of strong coaches and when the players come up as freshmen, they’re ready to go.”
Besides five WPIAL titles and five runners-up, Fox Chapel owns a 1990 PIAA title and a 1987 runner-up, along with 17 section titles.