SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — The Abington Heights boys soccer team will feature a lot of new faces this year, both on the field and on the sideline. Frank Dyska takes over as head coach, replacing Steve Klingman, after spending the last three seasons as an assistant at North Pocono.
The Comets have just three returning starters in senior defender Pat Beatty, senior forward Jonathan Rickwood and junior goalkeeper Jackson Danzig.
Dyska hinted that Beatty may have a position change and could potentially be used in multiple spots.
Beatty, who enters his third year as a starter, believes the development of the young players should lead to more success this season.
“We played with a lot of 10th graders on the team last year, so I hope now that they’re juniors we’ll be ever better and stronger as a team,” he said.
After finishing last season with a 10-3 league record and advancing to the semifinals of the District 2 Class 3A playoffs, the makeup of the team will have a much different look.
The Comets graduated 12 seniors including Colin Klingman, Nick Skierkowski, John McGarry, Noah Sirianni, Spencer Atkins, Evan Phillips, Bradley Sopinski, Brooks Houck and Lorran Rodrigues, who all saw significant playing time last season.
“It’s kind of a big turnover, but we have a lot of guys we think we can use in a varsity game and are planning to use,” Dyska said. “It not only helps throughout the course of one game, but also throughout the course of the season. It really keeps practices competitive, as well.”
Junior Evan Florey is expected to contribute as a midfielder, sophomore Cole Madera and junior Liam Neary should see time on defense and sophomore Antonio Maletta will contribute as a forward.
Rickwood is confident the new starters will be able to help the team reach its full potential.
“We have a lot of depth on the bench and I think a lot of guys are willing to step up and replace whoever was lost,” he said. “It’s just about meshing the players together in time to make a complete team.”
While he feels many schools can contend for the Lackawanna League Division 1 championship, Dyska pegged Wallenpaupack as an early favorite.
“I see the league as being wide open this year,” he said. “A lot of teams graduated a lot of good players and we’re looking to be in that mix of teams competing for the title.”
Dyska is excited to have his first head coaching opportunity in an area that embraces the sport.
“This is a great soccer community,” he said. “We’ve been competing and making each other better. Guys are figuring out how to improve individually, which in turn improves the team.”
Abington Heights will open its league season at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6 at Honesdale.
Senior members of the Abington Heights boys soccer team are, from left, Chris Suh, Spencer Gilbert, Zack Smith, Jonathan Rickwood, Jack Abdalla, Austin Catania, Pat Beatty and Thomas Stone.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.