Franklin Regional draws No. 1 seed in WPIAL Class 3A boys soccer playoffs

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018 | 6:15 PM


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Franklin Regional coach Rand Hudson hoped his team would get the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class 3A boys soccer playoffs. All right, he just about expected it.

How could he not?

The Panthers put together the most dominating regular season in program history. The Panthers (14-0-1) have allowed just three goals in 15 games.

A rather painless jaunt to the Section 4 title probably helped sway the committee to put Franklin Regional ahead of Section 2 champ West Allegheny (16-1) for the top spot. The Panthers blanked four sections teams twice. A 2-0 nonsection win over Norwin Saturday didn’t hurt, either.

West Allegheny was the WPIAL runner-up last year. Greensburg Salem (8-8) visits the high-scoring Indians at 8 p.m. Monday in Imperial.

“I don’t know if (No. 1) was a wish, but we’re glad to have it,” Hudson said. “I texted our boys (when the pairings came out) to look at the game ahead of them only — focus on that game only.”

Franklin Regional did not get a first-round bye because Class 3A has a full, 16-team bracket. The Panthers open at 8 p.m. Monday at home against Obama Academy (9-7-2).

The Panthers, who dropped from Class 4A where they made the quarterfinals a year ago, never have won a WPIAL title. This is believed to be the program’s first No. 1 seed. They were No. 2 in 2007 but were upset in the first round by Hempfield in a shootout.

“Brackets mean nothing unless you take care of the situation in front of you,” Hudson said.

Norwin, meanwhile, said bye to its first-round curse.

Sort of.

The Knights (15-2-1) received an opening bye, a reward for getting the No. 2 seed in the 12-team Class 4A bracket.

They won’t play until Thursday, against the winner of North Allegheny (10-5-1) and Peters Township (10-7).

Seneca Valley (14-2-1) is seeded No. 1. It beat Norwin, 2-1, in the season opener.

“The seeding is very good for us,” Knights coach Scott Schuchert said. “Anybody can win it this year, but I think discipline will be the difference.”

Norwin battled injuries last year to a team it thought could go a few rounds in the postseason. But the Knights avoided that predicament this time and soared to the Section 3 title without a loss.

“We are healthy and ready to do this,” Schuchert said.

Greensburg Central Catholic (14-1) also picked up a No. 2 seed, in Class A. The Centurions play Vincentian (5-8) at 6 p.m. Monday at Franklin Regional, before the host Panthers take the field for their playoff opener.

Centurions coach Tyler Solis thought his team had a strong shot at No. 1.

“We were No. 1 since beating Sewickley Academy, so you wonder what changed?” Solis said. “It’s all right, though. It doesn’t seem like we’re going to have to play anyone new.”

GCC, which did not lose to a WPIAL team, could see Section 2 opponents Serra Catholic (10-6) and Winchester Thurston (10-5) down the line.

Other opening matchups featuring Westmoreland County teams:

• In Class 4A, No. 11 Latrobe (10-6-1) visits No. 6 Butler (10-4-2) at 7 p.m. Monday. The Wildcats have only made the playoffs twice in the last two decades. The last time was 2014.

• No. 7 Belle Vernon (12-5-1) hosts No. 10 Kiski Area (11-6-1) at 8 p.m. Monday in Class 3A. Belle Vernon made the quarterfinals last season.

• In Class 2A, No. 8 Mt. Pleasant (12-4) plays No. 9 Freedom (8-8) at 6 p.m. Monday at Pine-Richland, while No. 12 Southmoreland (8-9) faces No. 5 South Park (11-4-1) at 6 p.m. Monday at Belle Vernon.

Mt. Pleasant picked up its first playoff win since 2013 last year. Southmoreland will try to accomplish that same feat this year.

• And in Class A, No. 13 Monessen (8-4-2) plays No. 4 Sewickley Academy (12-4) at 6:15 p.m. Monday at West Allegheny. Monessen’s last playoff win came in 2011.

Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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