Last Updated: Wed Nov 24, 2021 - 3:26PM
Playing goalie is perhaps the toughest task in all of sports. Shane Piper excelled as a keeper in soccer during his time at Mount Pleasant Area, however, and he’s continued to play well collegiately with Saint Vincent College. Piper, who recently wrapped up his junior campaign with the Bearcats, is featured on this edition of the Westmoreland Alum Q&A.
Piper cracked the varsity roster at Mount Pleasant Area as a freshman in 2015, but he was listed as a field player. That season, the Vikings went 10-6-2 overall, including 8-3-1 in section play. Mount Pleasant Area reached the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, but fell to Freeport Area in the preliminary round.
The next season, Piper fully transitioned to keeper, as the Vikings went 6-6-0 in section play, and again reached the postseason. Mount Pleasant Area fell to Waynesburg Central in the first round of the Class 2A bracket, though, finishing with a record of 9-8-1.
In 2017, the Vikings were a perfect 12-0-0 in section play, and returned to the Class 2A postseason. From there, Mount Pleasant defeated Elizabeth Forward, but lost to Central Valley in the quarterfinals to finish 15-3-0.
As a senior in 2018, Piper played in all 18 games, posting a sparkling goals-against-average (GAA) of 0.771, while making 109 saves. He helped the Vikings compile an overall mark of 13-5-0, including 9-3-0 in section play. The Vikings defeated Freedom Area in the playoffs, but came up short against Quaker Valley in the quarterfinals to conclude the season.
Following graduation, Piper elected to continue his career on the pitch for Saint Vincent College. He played sparingly in net as a freshman in 2019, playing in two games, including one start, while posting a GAA of 4.67, along with a save percentage of .611. SVC accumulated a record of 2-13-3 that season, including 1-5-2 in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC).
As a result of COVID, the 2020 fall campaign was instead shifted to the following spring. During that abbreviated campaign, Piper posted a record of 3-3-0 in eight games, including seven starts. He produced a goals-against-average of 1.86, a save percentage of .729, and one shutout. Playing almost entirely a conference ledger, the Bearcats went 4-5-0.
Back to the traditional fall season this year, Piper appeared in 11 matches, including nine starts. In that action, he went 1-4-0, with a GAA of 3.45 and a .649 save percentage. Saint Vincent collectively struggled, going just 2-15-0, including 1-8-0 in the PAC.
With his junior season now in the rear view, Shane took time to answer questions about the most important aspects of playing goalkeeper, his decision to attend Saint Vincent, and which player he’d choose to face for a penalty kick.
Q: How did you evaluate your performance this past season?
A: I believe my performance this season was exceptionally good for what the team experienced throughout the season. I got a lot more experience from playing time than I previously received, and will take what I have learned into next year.
Q: What are the most important aspects of playing keeper?
A: The most important aspects of playing keeper are communication and always being ready for the unexpected. Communication, especially with the defense, is important because everyone needs to be on the same page, whether it’s defending an attack or starting one out of the back. Being ready for anything is important because there could be a deflection during a shot that requires a quick reaction save, or there might be a free kick/penalty called, which could change the outcome of the game.
Q: What was the significance of playing a spring season earlier this year after the fall 2020 season was cancelled?
A: Playing a spring season this year was quite significant because it allowed the team to build chemistry on the field, and everyone was able to get more experience at the collegiate level.
Q: What individual and team goals did you set for this past campaign?
A: An individual goal of this past campaign was to become more a leader on the team while earning a starting position. The team goal was to make playoffs for the first time and win it all.
Q: After a tough season, what will be the areas of focus for the Bearcats to improve throughout the offseason?
A: In the offseason, the area of focus for us to improve on after this tough season is to recollect ourselves as a whole and get ready for next season with a fresh start. We are getting a new coach, so everyone will have to learn their coaching style. I believe this will be our secret weapon into next season, because it would give the team motivation to always do their best and to potentially learn something new.
Q: What led to your decision to attend Saint Vincent?
A: My decision to attend Saint Vincent was driven by knowing I’ll be able to continue my soccer career by playing at the collegiate level. Most importantly, I was on multiple field trips during high school to participate in example labs in the science building, and I really liked the professors and how the campus felt.
Q: What is your major, and ideal future profession?
A: I am majoring in environmental science with a biology minor. I plan to find a career with the Game Commission or the Fish and Boat Commission.
Q: What has been your most challenging college course thus far?
A: My most challenging college course so far was hydrology and limnology. It deals with everything relating to water, and there is a lot more to lakes and rivers than what I think most people know.
Q: You attended Mount Pleasant Area High School. What was your fondest memory there?
A: My fondest memory from Mount Pleasant Area High School was becoming section champs my junior year (2017). It was something not many people expected to happen, since we lost a group of seniors the year prior who were the stronghold of our defense.
Q: Do you still follow Vikings athletics or the WPIAL?
A: I still follow Vikings athletics, especially the girls soccer team, since both of my younger sisters play soccer. When I’m able to make a game, I watch them play, and I go to a football game on occasion.
Q: If you could face any player, past or present, for a penalty kick, who would you select?
A: I would select to face Lucas Toohey. He graduated from Mount Pleasant two years after me and is now a freshman at Westminster College. This past season was the first time I’ve ever played against him in a real game, in which he recorded one shot on me. He has great things coming to him in the future and I’m excited to see what happens.
Q: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
A: I would eat steak for the rest of my life if it’s the only thing I could eat.
Q: What is your favorite holiday?
A: My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because it brings family together and there is a lot of food.
Q: What is a hidden talent you possess, or a little-known fact about you?
A: A little-known fact about me is that I enjoy cooking.