Sewickley Academy Panthers are hoping to reach their peak during the postseason

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Sunday, November 1, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Throughout its regular season, the Sewickley Academy boys soccer team had just two blemishes on its record — a loss and a tie — and both came against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

Now, after beating No. 11 Chartiers-Houston, 3-0, in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs, the Panthers have set themselves up for an opportunity to right the wrongs of their otherwise perfect season.

“They are ranked higher than us for a reason. They are a very tough team, and it’s going to be a challenge for us,” Richter said. “But I think it is a challenge that the team is going to accept, and, obviously, it would be nice to beat your quote, unquote, rival, to move on to the semifinals. So we are excited about the challenge ahead for sure.”

The teams were set to meet Oct. 31, at North Allegheny High School for an opportunity to take on the winner of No. 2 Winchester Thurston and No. 7 Brentwood on Nov. 4.

Sewickley Academy and OLSH played twice this season as Section 1-A rivals, and the Chargers came out on top 2-1 on Sept. 24. Then the teams played to a 0-0 tie in their second matchup, and Richter was hoping to touch up a few things for their third matchup.

“We created good chances against them. We’ve just been on the wrong side of the inches so to speak,” he said. “So, obviously, would like to put the ball into the back of the net this time around. Even though we have scored one goal in two games against them we, only let up two goals in two games.

“Defensively, I felt like we looked pretty good, but I think we just must finish off our chances, especially in the playoffs against a good team because you are only going to get so many.”

The Panthers capitalized on their opportunities in their game against Chartiers-Houston, scoring three first-half goals to cruise into the quarterfinals for the second time in three years.

At this stage of the season, coaches want to see their team playing at its peak, and Richter said he might have seen his team play its best soccer against Chartiers-Houston.

“Hopefully, we are on that upward trajectory,” Richter said, “but I really like what we did (against Char-Houston). There was a lot of energy, good ball movement and finishing three times in the first half was good, too.”

For the Panthers, though, it is more than just advancing past the quarterfinals. Since the coronavirus hit in March, Richter said his seven seniors have been pushing their team toward their ultimate goal of a WPIAL championship. That hard work started in the summer and has continued.

Now that the Panthers are in the playoffs, with an opportunity to move onto the semis, Richter said his guys are as ready as ever and are motivated to prove themselves.

“The seniors are a huge core for us this year, and we’ve kind of geared up for this year and — not that we dismissed years past — but we knew we were going to have a pretty good group and a pretty good core of seniors this year,” Richter said. “The fact they took the reins over the summer and during the unknown and continued to work diligently, we entered the season in good conditioning, and I saw that again last night against Chartiers-Houston.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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