North Allegheny boys rally to win 2nd straight WPIAL soccer championship
By: Matt Grubba
Thursday, November 2, 2017 | 9:51 PM
North Allegheny put in another great title-winning finish at Highmark Stadium.
Cameron Yurick scored from close range with 5 minutes, 32 seconds remaining, and the Tigers won their second consecutive WPIAL Class AAAA title in comeback fashion, 2-1 over Peters Township on Thursday night.
The Tigers (19-2-1) last year stunned Seneca Valley — which, like Peters Township (17-1-1), was an undefeated No. 1 seed — with a late goal before winning in overtime, and it was a similar outcome this year for the school to claim its ninth WPIAL crown.
“In some ways, you force your own luck. … There were no excuses for whatever came our way, and we kept going until it was tied,” North Allegheny coach Bobby Vosmaer said. “I'll be honest, I was confident and calm almost the whole game. But you get nervous at the end because you wonder, ‘How long it is going to take (to score)?' ”
Peters led 1-0 on a first-half goal by Luke Kelly until the 73rd minute, when the Tigers pulled level on an own goal.
North Allegheny pushed the ball forward through the middle of the field, and under pressure, defender Moritz Woelk played a pass backward that went slightly too high for goalkeeper Derek Deyarmin, who was only able to get one hand to the ball. It was a goal that came after some sustained attacking spells by the Tigers, who had 10 corner kicks and continued to send balls into the box.
“The game-tying goal was just a matter of them putting the ball in a dangerous position. We have to clear it, and unfortunately, we made an error,” Peters Township coach Bob Dyer said. “It's an unfortunate situation, because I think we had defended pretty well and kept the ball to the outside up until that point.”
Less than two minutes later, North Allegheny got the winning goal when Josh Luchini worked down the left wing and sent a cross in behind the Peters defense, where Yurick got on the end of the pass just a few yards from goal.
“Ryan Earle played me a ball down the line, and there wasn't much time left. We wanted to finish it in regulation and try to go home early, and I just waited for him to make a run. When I saw the opportunity, I knew he'd finish it,” said Luchini, who nearly tied the game earlier in the second half with a shot from 15 yards that rang off the crossbar.
“I saw he was making the run down the line, and I cut (toward the) near post. He slotted it in, and I shot it,” Yurick said.
The winning goal was similar to Kelly's opening strike, when a low, rolling cross from the left wing trickled past players for both teams at the near post before Kelly slammed it home from the top of the goal box. Both teams continued to press forward, though Peters naturally struck a more defensive posture with the lead.
“Up to (the tying goal), we had played to plan. We had gotten some chances, good chances, on breaks and counters, but the best-laid plans sometimes don't work,” Dyer said.
North Allegheny's reward for another district title is a PIAA first-round rematch with section foe Pine-Richland on Tuesday at a time and site to be determined. The Tigers won both regular-season meetings, 3-2 and 2-1, and hope to put together a state run to at least match last season, when they reached the state semifinals.
“We know Pine-Richland well, and if we win, Peters could be there again,” Luchini said. “We play the same teams over and over, but we've just got to get through them and hopefully make it past the semis this time.”
Peters Township's PIAA first-round opponent will be the winner of a subregional playoff game Saturday between District 10 champ Erie McDowell and District 6 champ Altoona.