Men’s Soccer: Seniors lead by example on and off field

By Kelly Flanigan

Hard work has paid off for Pitt soccer seniors Andy Kalas and Justin Boehm, not just on the… Hard work has paid off for Pitt soccer seniors Andy Kalas and Justin Boehm, not just on the field, but in the classroom as well.

They both enjoy great success in the classroom. This year, they were named to Pitt’s list of 4.0 Scholar Athletes.

“Time management is really key for me. There is never a down minute,” Kalas said. “Some days I go from practice to the library to lifting and then back to the library.”

As a partial result of their efforts, the team won the Top Men’s Academic award at the Student-Athlete Award Breakfast with a collective 3.08 GPA and the team is looking to collect more awards this year with their play on the field.

Kalas, a defenseman from Norwin High School, has competed in 52 contests, and has started all but one of those games.

He currently has three career goals (one game-winning), and six points.

Boehm, a midfielder from South Park, has competed in 44 career games, 35 of which he started in.

Boehm has scored three career goals (one was a game-winner), added two assists, and accumulated eight points in his career.

Last year, head coach Joe Luxbacher’s team finished with a disappointing record of 2-13-2 (1-9-1 in Big East play), their only victories were over Seton Hall, Robert Morris, and California (Pa.).

Yet, the seniors seem confident that things are sure to turn around this season.

“We just need to come ready to play every day. I keep telling the guys that we will practice like we play,” Boehm said.

Kalas cited an atmosphere change as a key difference between this season and the last.

“Starting at the end of the spring, we started bringing in a positive atmosphere change,” Kalas said. “We’re putting more effort into everything, and ensuring that everyone comes in focused and fit. We have higher goals.”

The 2010-2011 roster holds much promise for the team. It includes great depth in experience in its’ eight seniors and three redshirt juniors.

Besides Kalas, the defense is anchored by junior Sam Luffy.

Joining Boehm in the midfield are senior Alex Betancourt and junior Ryan Brode, and all three will need to provide goals and consistency.

“One of our major weaknesses last season was our consistency. We played well in games we should have won,” Boehm said. “This year, we’re bringing back a lot of guys. We’re a year older. We’re stronger and smarter now.”

Kalas says that mental toughness was a major issue for the team last year.

“We lost eight games by one goal and tied several in overtime where we just couldn’t capitalize. We need to hang tough this season in the last 20-25 minutes.”

The roster also includes nine freshman, and both seniors are sure they will make great contributions to the team’s cause during this season and in those to come.

“We’ll be the leaders on the team and show them how to act on the practice field,” Boehm said of teaching the freshmen.

Kalas said that all teammates will be on campus by early August, but camp will not officially start until the Aug. 14, when the coaches are permitted to be with the team per NCAA regulations.

“Before camp we’ll be doing team workouts and conditioning; we just want to get a jumpstart and get acclimated with everything before two-a-days begin,” Kalas said.

The Panthers will play their first game on August 25th at Founders Field against California (Pa.).