North Allegheny overcomes late goal to win Class 4A girls soccer title in overtime

Friday, November 6, 2020 | 12:15 AM

With North Allegheny holding a one-goal lead with 32 seconds left in Thursday’s Class 4A girls soccer championship game, Butler gained its second penalty kick opportunity of the second half, and, unlike the first time, didn’t miss.

Sophomore Sam Miller put the ball past Tigers’ goalkeeper Juliann Werner to tie the match and send it to overtime.

That last-minute adversity didn’t stop the Tigers.

Lucia Wells scored with 5:50 left in the second overtime to help North Allegheny become back-to-back Class 4A champions with a 2-1 win.

It was exactly what North Allegheny coach Chuck Kelley and Butler coach Steve Perri thought would happen.

“That’s what I expect in a final. At the end, there’s going to be chances everywhere,” Kelley said. “Some are going to be put in, and some you’re going to wish you had back. That was a great match.”

When North Allegheny (11-2) was put on the other side of the bracket, Perri said he was happy.

“I wanted to avoid them early and play them late,” Perri said. “The stars aligned, and walking in, I fully expected it to be all offense, back-and-forth chances and whichever team broke first would lose. Unfortunately that was us.”

North Allegheny senior Sarah Schupansky scored the lone marker in the first half in the 11th minute, unassisted.

In the second half, Werner made a stop of a penalty kick chance for Butler’s Chloe Weiland, a Youngstown State recruit, to keep it 1-0 Tigers in the 62nd minute.

The next big chance came for the Tigers, but it was a stop by Mackenna Yaracs, who played the second half and first overtime, that kept it 1-0 and allowed the Golden Tornado (11-2) a chance to tie the game, which they did with 32 seconds left on the penalty kick by Miller.

Once the game went to its first overtime, Yaracs made a save on a bicycle kick attempt in the 84th minute before stopping a penalty kick from North Allegheny’s Schupansky in the sixth minute of the second overtime.

Butler’s next chance came in the 101st minute of the match, but it was stopped by Werner.

A few minutes later, Wells finished a play started by Schupansky and the Tigers won on the golden goal.

“There’s a never quit with the entire team. It takes the midfielders to provide a pass to the forwards, and the defenders to shut down other teams. It takes the keeper making saves,” Kelley said. “There are massive moments in games. You think about the PK we had. This is what you want. It pushes you to the breaking point, and you see how you respond.”

Butler didn’t have many high-percentage chances early but made some changes in the second half that paid off to create opportunities.

“We just needed to get our footing,” Perri said. “Once we did, you could tell why we’re here.”

The Golden Tornado used Paige Miller in the first half, a senior, and in the second overtime, a goalkeeping swap with Yaracs. It’s something they’ve been doing all year.

“They understand that whichever one is on needs to do their job,” Perri said. “Neither deserved to sit. They’ve been the heart of this team since Day 1. It wasn’t a hard choice to go back to Paige. I’d have done it a hundred times over.”

North Allegheny now advances to play in the PIAA quarterfinals Nov. 14, fresh off its second WPIAL girls’ soccer title.

The Tigers will play either the District 6 champion Altoona or D-10 champ McDowell at home after those two teams play in the subregional.

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