Westmoreland County boys soccer notebook: Eye-popping Belle Vernon goal goes viral

Wednesday, October 6, 2021 | 4:00 PM

Throughout the soccer season, Pennylvania Soccer and Hudl.com scour the state looking for the top highlight-reel goals.

When the website saw Daniel Sassak’s jaw-dropper for Belle Vernon that stunned Trinity, it took the play straight to the top.

Pennsylvania Soccer named it the No. 1 goal of the week in its top 5.

Sassak took a rebound off a corner kick, re-centered around the 12-yard line, juked a defender and delivered a rising shot top-left to beat Trinity, 2-1, in overtime.

James Weir Stadium, known as the “Beach,” has become the place for thrills this season. Along with Sassak’s goal, football star Devin Whitlock scored a walk-off touchdown as the Leopards beat Thomas Jefferson, 28-21. Video of that play also went viral.

Sassak ties record

Sassak set a goal to climb in the Belle Vernon record book and he is not disappointing.

With his hat trick in a 7-0 win over Ringgold, he stretched his career goal total to 89, tying Markello Apodiakos’ program mark. Sassak said he hopes to be the school’s first 100-goal scorer.

Jeannette makes playoffs

Having one of its best seasons, Jeannette clinched a playoff spot for the first time in boys soccer.

The Jayhawks, led by sophomore Jordan Taylor and a boost of newer talent, are tied with Serra Catholic in Section 2-A at 7-2 and 4-2. Jeannette split with Serra this season.

Jeannette’s on-again-off-again program began in 1997. The 2013 team has the most wins, with eight, but could not get to the postseason.

Taylor has 27 goals this season and 53 for his career.

Visco scores for P-T

It is not often that a goalkeeper scores a goal, but it can happen.

Ask A.J. Visco.

The Penn-Trafford keeper capitalized on a rare chance last week for a unique senior night moment.

Visco told coach Sotiri Tsourekis he wanted to score a goal for the first time in his high school career.

When the Warriors drew a penalty kick, Visco got his chance.

“I could not convince him to put me on offense because he did not want to risk me getting injured,” Visco said, “but he told me that if we had a penalty kick opportunity, that I would be taking it.

“Early in the second half, one of our wingers got fouled in the box, so I got the penalty kick opportunity and was able to score.”

Penn-Trafford beat Connellsville, 5-0.

Postseason format

The WPIAL will use a similar format to the one it implemented last fall for the soccer playoffs, league executive director Amy Scheuneman said. Higher seeds will play home games for the first and second rounds, “provided the school’s facility meets minimum requirements to host the contest,” which refers to turf, seating, etc.

Neutral sites will be considered for the semifinals, while the championships are set to return to Highmark Stadium at Station Square in Pittsburgh on Nov. 5-6.

Playoff teams

A number of Westmoreland teams have secured playoff spots heading into the final week of the WPIAL regular season.

Qualifiers so far include Norwin and Penn-Trafford in Class 4A, Belle Vernon and Franklin Regional in 3A and Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette in Class A.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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