Soccer teams grin, bear it when WPIAL playoff seeds aren’t favorable
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 | 7:08 PM
Playoff brackets can cause coaches to do a lot of hand-wringing as the WPIAL committee “holes up in some room somewhere” to draw up their tournament path.
To that end, not all coaches are content with their team’s position and many wonder how decisions were made. The ones who have been at this long enough, though, know it’s better to to bite their lip and play on.
It is what it is, as the saying goes.
Take Norwin boys soccer coach Scott Schuchert. His team has two losses — to No. 1 seed Plum and nationally ranked AAA top seed Franklin Regional. Yet, the Knights are seeded sixth in the AAAA tournament, with no first-round bye like the one another second-place team, Canon-McMillan, got.
The coach decided to craft the situation into a motivational tool.
“Getting used to it,” Schuchert said. “We are better off playing the underdog role. If you didn’t put numbers beside the names to boost your initial ego, we are exactly where we want to be.”
Norwin (15-2-1), the WPIAL runner-up last year after breaking an 0 for 7 streak in the first round, will host No. 11 Baldwin (7-10-1) at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Yough girls coach Dann Appolonia could be punting soccer balls off the side of Cougar Mountain, fuming mad that his team shared the Section 3 title with South Park but is seeded fifth and did not get a bye. South Park, meanwhile, is No. 3 and is clear to the quarterfinals.
Appolonia is a veteran coach and knows he can’t change the bracket.
“It’s not what everyone thought it would be, that’s for sure,” he said.
Yough (14-1-1) will play No. 12 Highlands (5-9) at 6 p.m. Monday at Penn-Trafford.
The Greensburg Central Catholic girls split the Section 1-A title with rival Shady Side Academy, but the Centurions must have been docked for three straight losses — to strong opponents in AA top five seeds South Park and Burrell as well as Shady Side — and are seeded No. 5.
The Centurions (10-3) open against No. 12 Carlynton (8-5-2) at 6 p.m. Monday at Hampton.
“I don’t think the seeding matters,” said GCC coach Ashley Davis, who recently returned to the sidelines after maternity leave. “You’re eventually going to have to play the best team, and whether you play them sooner or later, it doesn’t matter. You have to beat them to win.”
Other local teams also learned their playoff draws.
• The Franklin Regional boys (15-0-1) were the clear No. 1 seed in AAA. The Panthers, ranked No. 45 in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer and the owners of 13 shutouts, will begin their title defense at 2 p.m. Saturday at home against Laurel Highlands (8-9).
“Now it’s time to go to work,” Panthers coach Rand Hudson said.
The AAA bracket has 16 teams so there were no byes.
• Speaking of byes, the Norwin girls were the only local team to get one. The Knights (16-1) are the top seed in Class AAAA and will not play until next Thursday — at home. Norwin has won nine straight.
• Greensburg Central Catholic (11-3-1), the WPIAL Class A boys runner-up last year, was tabbed a No. 2 seed and will take on Mohawk (7-9-1) at noon Saturday at Butler.
• Belle Vernon (16-1) is No. 4 in the AAA boys tournament and plays host to No. 13 Indiana (8-9-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday.
• In Class AA boys, No. 11 Southmoreland (8-9) faces No. 6 Freedom (10-7) at noon Saturday at Norwin.
• More area girls matchups in the first round Monday include Class AA No. 4 Burrell (16-0) vs. No. 13 Mt. Pleasant (10-6) at 6 p.m. at Kiski Area, Class AAA No. 14 Franklin Regional (8-8) at No. 3 West Allegheny (13-2) at 8 p.m., Class AAA No. 12 Ambridge (10-5-1) at No. 5 Belle Vernon (14-3) at 8 p.m., and in AAAA, No. 11 Pine-Richland (12-5) at No. 6 Penn-Trafford (12-5) at 8, and No. 13 Hempfield (5-8-1) at No. 4 Moon (14-2-1) at 8.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .