Joey Fonagy’s overtime goal lifts Canon-McMillan to WPIAL boys soccer title
Thursday, October 31, 2019 | 10:41 PM
The Big Macs had one more comeback in them and it was one that they’ll remember for a long time.
Trailing by a goal with just over a minute remaining, Luke Gladden found some open space and scored a goal from 18 yards out before Joey Fonagy scored on a header for a golden goal three minutes into overtime as No. 4 Canon-McMillan stunned No. 2 Mt. Lebanon, 3-2, in a thrilling WPIAL Class AAAA boys soccer final Thursday night at Highmark Stadium.
The Big Macs (15-3-1) earned their third title since 2012 and first since 2015. Mt. Lebanon (15-5-1), which swept Canon-McMillan in the regular season, was seeking its first championship since 2009.
Canon-McMillan had a similar comeback in the semifinals, scoring twice in the final 5 minutes, 17 seconds of regulation to beat Plum, 3-2.
“We’re just a resilient team,” Gladden said. “Whenever we face adversity, our heads never go down. We just go play the next play, next tackle or next shot and it works.”
Gladden set up from just outside the middle of the 18-yard box and booted a shot that hit off the crossbar and straight down into the goal to tie it.
“It came off well,” Gladden said. “I didn’t know if it was going in, but when I looked up and saw it went in top left corner and at that point, I just wanted to go celebrate with my team.”
In overtime, Gladden sent a cross into the box and Fonagy beat Mt. Lebanon goalkeeper Steven Vines to the ball in front of the goal and headed it home.
“I give all the credit to Lukey for sure,” Fonagy said. “I’m proud of him.”
Gladden deflected credit to Fonagy.
“Joey Fonagy has been a big component in the air for us all season and he came up big for us there,” he said. “I took it down the line and played it across the box and big body Joey Fonagy was there to finish it and send us home with a WPIAL championship.”
For much of the second half, Canon-McMillan fought an uphill battle. It had three yellow cards, including two in the second half, one on Fonagy and another on coach Larry Fingers. Canon-McMillan committed 17 fouls to nine for Mt. Lebanon.
Zachary Nellas scored on a shot that was set up by a free kick in the 63rd minute to give Mt. Lebanon a 2-1 lead.
From there Canon-McMillan pushed bodies forward and kept the pressure up until they finally broke through.
“There is an idea that we seem to play better as the game goes on. It certainly is not intentional,” Fingers said. “I thought we played a lot better in the first 20 than we have recently. We got one early, but then they got one back. I figured once we got one late that we would be OK.”
Thomas Samosky scored on his own rebound on a play set up by a free kick from midfield in the 15th minute to give Canon-McMillan a 1-0 lead. Nellas assisted on a goal from Danny Simboro that tied the score 1-1 going into halftime.
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer