Westmoreland high school notebook: Franklin Regional boys soccer meets familiar foe

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Sunday, November 1, 2020 | 4:55 PM


So they meet again.

Franklin Regional (15-2) and West Allegheny (15-1) have become quite familiar with one another in the boys soccer postseason, and the teams will clash again at 6:30 p.m. Monday in a semifinal game in Murrysville.

The playoff rivals played each other in the past two WPIAL Class AAA championships, with Franklin Regional winning both by scores of 1-0 and 2-1 (last year) at Highmark Stadium.

West Allegheny beat the Panthers, 2-1, two years ago in the PIAA semifinals on the way to a state title.

This time, one team will eliminate the other from the postseason and take away another trip to the finals, where West Allegheny has been the last three years.

The WPIAL gave higher-seeded teams home-field advantage in the playoffs for safety reasons to reduce travel and possibly slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“In might matter in that they have to travel 45 minutes to get here,” Panthers coach Rand Hudson said of West Allegheny coming to Panther Stadium. “I don’t know if the field will matter too much. West Allegheny just reloads. They are disciplined, and their effort is consistent. That is what we’ll need to beat them. We’ll have to put a whole game together.”

All-state junior forward Anthony DiFalco leads the Panthers with 35 goals and 21 assists.

West Allegheny knows his name well, but the Panthers know the key Indians names such as Amos and Dragisich.

Juniors Keegan Amos and Johnny Dragisich power the lineup with a combined 30 goals.

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to expect another one-goal game. Franklin Regional and West Allegheny have combined for 21 shutouts.

The back line-strong Panthers have 12.

Home sweet home

Speaking of home-field advantage, the PIAA last week decided to give teams on top of the brackets home games in the state playoffs, too, through the semifinals.

Look for much smaller state tournaments this year. The PIAA brackets are pre-slotted, and only district champions will make the state playoffs in fall sports.

If a WPIAL team can’t host an event, the WPIAL would need to find a new site in the district.

If a state playoff event features a team from the east against one from the west, traditional rules will apply where the PIAA will find a neutral site.

The PIAA football and soccer finals still are scheduled to be played in Hershey.

Recruiting

A pair of Norwin seniors made commitments to Division II schools on the same day.

Jayden Walker and Danielle Rosso will play baseball and basketball, respectively, at the next level, they announced Wednesday.

Walker, a 6-foot-3 left-handed pitcher and first baseman, gave a verbal pledge to Mercyhurst of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Walker, who had a Division I offer from Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md., also plays basketball for the Knights.

Rosso has been a key combo guard for Norwin, a perennial power in girls basketball. The 5-foot-8 senior is headed to West Liberty of the Mountain East Conference.

She averaged about 15 points a game last season for the Lady Knights, who went 18-5 and made the WPIAL quarterfinals a year after a district semifinal and PIAA quarterfinal appearance.

Rosso plays AAU basketball for the Western PA Bruins, known for producing high-level college players.

• Christian Zilli, a senior at Hempfield, will continue his baseball career at Seton Hill. Zilli, a three-sport athlete, is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound pitcher and corner infielder.

He was the Spartans’ quarterback this fall.

• Franklin Regional senior three-sport athlete Luke Kimmich will play two sports at Grove City.

Kimmich, who won a WPIAL title recently with the golf team and is a starter for the semifinal-bound soccer team, plans to play golf and soccer at the Division III school.

Kimmich also plays basketball for the Panthers.

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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