Franklin Regional soccer celebrates big win over South Fayette

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019 | 11:20 PM


Not every night qualifies as a “Booyah” night for the Franklin Regional boys soccer team.

Think of the Panthers’ celebratory tradition, named after a song, as bringing out the good china. Special occasions only.

“We saw this as the biggest game on our regular season schedule so far, so we said, ‘Let’s do it,’” junior midfielder Zach Lorenz said.

The top-ranked Panthers bumped aside No. 3 South Fayette, 4-1, on Tuesday night at Panther Stadium to gain some separation at the top of the section. The team’s reaction spoke not only to the respect it has for South Fayette, but also the significance of the victory.

In the process, the Panthers (8-0-1, 7-0-1) ran their regular-season unbeaten streak to 31 games. They have not lost in the regular season since Sept. 26, 2017 against Penn-Trafford (2-1).

Second-place South Fayette (8-2, 5-2) saw a six-game winning streak end.

So what exactly is a “Booyah” game?

In the postgame locker room — usually after a section title-clinching win or playoff victory — players huddle and chant lyrics from the popular song, “Booyah,” by Showtek, Sonny Wilson and We Are Loud.

They lose their shirts, go crazy and yell for a few seconds and then take the decibel level even higher for the finale — when the middle man, Jake Sciorilli, breaks a chair.

It’s a spectacle to witness.

While Tuesday night’s game was a late-season section showdown, it still checked all the boxes. It was time to dance.

“This was a great team win across the board,” Panthers coach Rand Hudson said. “I didn’t have a problem with them breaking it out.”

The Panthers had the better of scoring chances in the first half but took a while to find the net. Once they did, they looked more confident on the attack and made South Fayette work.

They added two more scores in the second half when play picked up.

Lorenz and sophomore forward Anthony DiFalco each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers.

Missed chances early allowed the much taller Lions to hang around. A few headers sailed high, another was saved by keeper Austin Rees and DiFalco’s one-on-one try came in just wide with 12:32 to play before the half.

DiFalco took the ball just inside the 20-yard line on several possessions but could not score in isolation.

Instead, he assisted on a score to give the Panthers a 1-0 advantage.

With 10 minutes, 7 seconds left in the half, DiFalco controlled the ball in his normal spot to the left, worked around a defender and chipped a pass ahead to Lorenz, who scored low and right on Rees.

DiFalco put the Panthers ahead by two when he scored his 14th goal of the season on a penalty kick about five minutes later. South Fayette was called for a handball in the penalty area and the Lions trailed 2-0 at the break.

DiFalco and his teammates were able to spread the field and play outside-in, a style they consider to be a strength.

“We like to get wide and it was there,” Hudson said. “We were able to work from the wings. I don’t think South Fayette has a kid under 6-foot. So we said, ‘Let’s keep it low.’”

South Fayette took advantage of a direct kick from just outside the 10-yard line just after halftime and cut the lead in half. Midfielder Chad Eldridge rifled a shot into the back left of the goal to make it 2-1.

“We’ve allowed three goals this year and they all have come on set pieces,” Hudson said. “That was a great free kick. What a shot.”

Less than two minutes later, though, the Panthers were in business again. Sideline speedster Isaac Gamwo, a junior midfielder, kept a possession alive by outworking a pursuer to the ball and delivered a cross to junior midfielder Blake Cooper for the score and a 3-1 advantage.

“We played too narrow against them last year so we wanted to get wider,” Lorenz said. “Teams like to pack it back against us. Once we got up we handled them.”

Lorenz assisted on one last score for the Panthers when his header found its way to senior midfielder Garrett Beaver, who buried it with 1:50 to go.

“(Junior goalkeeper) Gianni (Diacopoulos) stood up and did a nice job, too,” Hudson said.

Diacopoulos made six saves. Rees faced 12 shots and made five saves.

Franklin Regional defeated the Lions by a 3-0 score in two of their last three meetings. The teams also played to a 0-0 tie last year.

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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