Pittarelli Preps For Team’s Defense of State Title

The boys’ season has moved from Aug. 1 to Jan. 11.


File photo: Senior Chris Steg #11 during his 2019 junior season.

Connor Kitson, Sports Editor

After a successful 2019 soccer season, varsity boys’ soccer coach Rich Pittarelli was named High School OT Coach of the Year and brought home a Soccer State Championship.

Pittarelli had a vision for the program, and he developed players throughout their four years at Wake Forest.

“I wanted nothing more than for Wake Forest Soccer to be a contender and not an easy win. Mrs. Hamler and Coach Joyner gave me an opportunity, and I was going to make sure I followed through,” Pittarelli said. “Coach Zaytoun has been a huge help in turning this program around.  He has created a strong JV program, which feeds into the varsity. Together, we focus on improvement and team chemistry. I coach because I want to show our athletes all their potential.”

The Cougar soccer program encourages players to evaluate more than their on-field skills before they could be successful on the field.

“​I wanted our players to have integrity, to instill sportsmanship, hard work and a team mentality. That was the foundation. From there, I wanted to show that we can compete with the programs that were already strong. The two years prior to me becoming head coach, we were winning five games a season. We needed confidence, discipline, integrity, and self-evaluation. I am quite happy with the progress of the program and look forward to more success,” Pittarelli said.

This year’s season will be one like never before.

“Well, I can give you one word: COVID. This has had a huge impact on all our lives, including athletics. Another challenge is our workout schedule. It is extremely different this year, and we are only playing 14 regular season games,” Pittarelli said. “With a condensed season, every game counts. Last year, we graduated 14 seniors and 12 the year before. This year, we need the underclassmen to really step up.”

Pittarelli shines a light on key players for this year’s team.

“Connor Kitsonnot just because he is writing this article, but he is the best goalie in the area. He’s a beast in goal, composed and leads the team well. He, along with James Holmes, are this year’s captains. Austin Talmadge and Chris Steg are co-captains. Steg is one of the most talented offensive threats I have seen,” Pittarelli said. “Austin Talmadge, Grant Stuart and Nelson Thompson are expected to lead the back line, and James will provide us with size up top. Drew Frazier, Josh Rutland and Adrian Valle are all returning and expected to contribute. It’s the rising JV players that will have some big shoes to fill.”

Pittarelli talks about what he pushes his student athletes to accomplish and what success means to him.

“It’s learning to become a team and play like one. It’s learning to be selfless and not selfish. Gratitude and not attitude. There are also the wins”;” the ability to get stronger and gain momentum. But there is also the success our team has off the field as well”:” graduating and moving on with their dreams, and I’m honored to play a small part of this in their lives,” Pittarelli said.