No. 13 Montour upsets No. 4 Franklin Regional in 1st round

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Saturday, October 22, 2022 | 6:14 PM


As patient and prodding as it was, Montour’s gameplan also was simplistic.

Stack the box early and put the offensive attack on a low simmer until the Spartans got better acquainted with Franklin Regional.

Once that happened, they could turn up the heat.

Sophomore Andrew Prunier understood the assignment and helped the Spartans pull off a stunner.

Prunier scored both goals as No. 13 seed Montour upset the No. 4 Panthers, 2-1, in a WPIAL Class 3A boys soccer first-round playoff game on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Murrysville.

“We saw film on Franklin Regional and with the way they attack, we wanted to suss them out for the first 15 minutes,” Spartans assistant coach Gavin Stabbe said. “We can play a progressive game, but we wanted to be safe to start out. Our guys were dialed in.”

Montour head couch Lou Bucci was not with the team. Stabbe said Bucci missed the game for personal reasons. It is unclear if Bucci will return for the next game.

All of the scoring came in the first half as the Spartans (10-4-4) advanced to play No. 5 Kiski Area (15-3) in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Perennial contender Franklin Regional (14-5) had not lost in the first round since 2016.

The Panthers had won 13 of 14 and came in with 10 shutouts.

Montour, which finished fourth in Section 2 behind No. 1 seed Moon, No. 7 South Fayette and No. 11 Ambridge, lost in the first round last year.

“Credit goes to Montour and their staff for making some changes mid-game,” Franklin Regional coach Lukas Petersen said. “They were packing the middle and taking away our strength.”

Petersen said he had 19 players dealing with flu-like symptoms — senior midfielder Dylan Tomb did not play, and sophomore forward Joey Bayne and senior defender Jake Zimmerman were not at 100%.

Still, the Panthers looked strong early, putting a goal on the board just five minutes in. Senior Sam Dawson crossed in front to freshman Fabrizio Costa, who netted his first career goal.

The 1-0 lead held for about 25 minutes until Prunier tied it on a helper from sophomore Jaxon Camp.

The pace changed from there as the Spartans began to gather offense.

“Andrew is so fast,” Stabbe said. “When he gets out in front, we know he’s going to finish.”

In the 39th minute, the striker connected again, taking a through ball from sophomore Aidan O’Leary, wedging through defenders and finishing past junior keeper Aryan Selokar to make it 2-1 at the break.

“We wanted to get in behind their fullbacks,” Stabbe said.

Selokar was drawn out on both goals.

“We play in the hardest section in 3A,” said Prunier, who has 13 goals this season. “That helped us for a game like this. We knew they play out of the back. We wanted to possess, but not the whole game. We knew we could get some shots.”

Montour kept the Panthers’ scoring threats quiet, forcing them to create more in the middle than from the outside.

“Our wing play was lacking,” Petersen said. “We chose a bad game to play a bad game. The big takeaway is that we didn’t play well, and that falls on my shoulders. I didn’t have us prepared.”

Silenced in the second half, the Panthers pressed late and had a few opportunities. Senior Colton Hudson, who moved to the midfield, nearly scored a tying goal with five seconds left. His partially struck shot bounced off the crossbar.

Spartans senior goalkeeper Arthem Faerovitch tied Selokar with four saves, including a high-reaching stop on a bending attempt by sophomore Danny Christafano with 30 minutes to play.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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