WPIAL Soccer Semifinals Monday Recaps

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 1:20 AM

In the end, the WPIAL soccer steering committee did a pretty good job as the top seeds have progressed nicely through the district postseason. In fact, five of the six top-seeds will be playing for gold this weekend along with a pair of #2’s, two #3’s and a #5. The lone exceptions are the surprise runs of the #10 Canon-McMillan Big Macs in girls AAA and the #11 Freedom Bulldogs in girls A.  Here are recaps from all twelve boys and girls WPIAL Soccer Semifinals matches on Monday as heard here on MSA Sports.

All six title matches this weekend will also be heard here on MSA Sports.

A special thanks to Mike Azadian, Brandon Showers, Adam Hoerner, Rob Longo, Mike Sackley, Cory Campano, Lou Rood, Greg Kuntz and Mark Schaas for their help on these recaps!


Upper St. Clair Panthers 5 – Butler Golden Tornado 2 
With upset victories over Penn-Trafford and section rival Seneca Valley in the first 2 rounds, the Butler Golden Tornado were looking to take its own Cinderella route to the Class AAA Finals, but the team had an even taller order facing them in the form of the top-seeded Upper St. Clair Panthers, winners of 6 WPIAL Boys Soccer Titles.  The Panthers fought their way to the semis by beating 2 other Northern teams, North Hills (2-0), and North Allegheny (2-1).  USC established the momentum early as the team scored on each of its first 4 shots of the game.  Stefano Paolina, Doug Hapeman, Robbie Mertz, and Tommy Davidson all tallied in the first 26 minutes of the game past Butler keeper Adam Voelker.  In addition to his own goal, Mertz also assisted on Davidson’s goal and set up a brilliant cross to Shayne Sibley for St. Clair’s 5th goal right before the end of the first half.  Despite the huge deficit, there was still no quit in the Tornado.  In the 53rd minute, Butler got on the board as Joel Stutz drilled a shot off a corner-kick from Anthony Werth past USC keeper Kenny Rapko to cut the lead to 5-1.  Later in the half, Logan Angert banged in the rebound from a Paul James shot past goalie Mac Dominic, who had replaced Rapko, to make it 5-2.  However, the USC lead was too insurmountable as Butler could come no closer, and the Upper St. Clair Panthers (19-0-1) will seek their 7th WPIAL Title in school history this coming weekend as they will battle the Peters Township Indians in the Finals.  The season will continue for Butler (12-7-2) at least for one more game as they will face the Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings in the AAA Consolation game.  The winner of that one will be the 3-team to represent the WPIAL in the PIAA State Playoffs.

Peters Township Indians 2 – Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings 0 
In a battle of two outstanding defensive teams, it was the attacking Indians offense that prevailed at West Allegheny on Monday night to send Peters Township to Highmark Stadium. Nicco Mastrangelo scored in the first half, he set up Ryan Faloni’s goal in the 62nd minute to give the Indians a ton of breathing room. Peters Township used a combination of attacking the Vikings defense and blanketing the third leading scorer in the WPIAL in Ryan Sproule, giving the senior forward no room to operate. Sproule finished the regular season with 29 goals. He was able to get free twice, sending a header over the cross bar in the first half and missed wide left on a header with 7:45 remaining in regulation time. Indians defender Sean Harrison shadowed Sproule all over the field. The Vikings had only six scoring chances in the game, compared to the Indians ten. Peters Township is now 17-2 overall, the Indians will meet section foe Upper St. Clair over the weekend in the championship game, with the victory, Peters Township is in the state playoffs. Pittsburgh Central Catholic will meet Butler in Wednesday’s consolation game with a PIAA berth on the line, the Vikings fall to 19-2.


South Park Eagles 2 – South Fayette Lions 0 
For the South Park boys soccer team, the third time was a charm against South Fayette Monday evening in a 2-0 shutout at Peters Township High School. Last season, the Eagles were downed by South Fayette 1-0 in the WPIAL semifinals. Back in 2012, South Fayette edged out South Park 1-0 via penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. This year, however, was a different story. After South Fayette controlled possession for the first 15 minutes of play, long stretch passes by South Park broke down the Lions’ defense over time. With 13:06 to play in the first half, Justin Minda picked off a South Fayette pass on the edge of the penalty area and buried a 15-yard shot into the bottom left corner of the net to make it 1-0 in favor of the Eagles. After the break, South Park retained possession for most of the second half and put the match out of reach when Christian Payne fired multiple shots. Payne’s first shot hit a defender, his second at point-blank range was stopped by South Fayette keeper Andrew Pine but then his third hit the bottom right corner of the cage to put the Eagles up 2-0 with 25:42 left in regulation. The Eagles move on to the WPIAL Class AA finals this weekend to take on West Allegheny.

West Allegheny Indians 2 – Quaker Valley Quakers 0 
The #15-seeded Quaker Valley Quakers were the developing Cinderella story of the 2014 WPIAL Class AA Playoffs with upset wins over #2 Mars and Shady Side Academy.  The defending champion West Allegheny Indians were looking to return to the finals after knocking off Burrell and Thomas Jefferson by a combined score of 14-1.  The 2 teams collided at Moon Area Tigers Stadium in the Semifinals Monday night (10/27) for the right to play for the AA Title on Super Soccer Weekend.  The lone tally of the first half took place in the 26th minute as West A’s leading scorer, Mike Cummings, dribbled down the right wing and laid a perfect cross pass on the foot of Colin Wurst, who one-timed his shot past QV keeper Jack Reguiero for the 1-0 lead.  The Indians got an insurance goal in the 47th minute when Cummings fired a shot from 35 yards out and ricocheted off QV defender Owen Harkins and past Reguiero into the net.  From that point, West A played near perfect defense and kept the Quakers off the board to preserve its 2-0 win to earn a chance to defend the Class AA Championship.  The Indians improved their record to 17-3-1 with the win while the Quakers incredible run ended at 12-8-2.  Despite being eliminated from WPIAL Title contention, the silver lining for QV is that by virtue of making the semis, the Quakers still qualify for the PIAA State Playoffs.


Sewickley Academy Panthers 5 – Geibel Catholic Gators 0 
The defending WPIAL Class A Champions entered the 2014 season with only one returning starter for Coach James Boone, Goal Keeper Jackson O’Neil.  Not to matter though as the Panthers will be right back in the Championship Game at Highmark Stadium after knocking off the surprising Gebel Gators 5-0 in Monday night’s semi-final game at Baldwin High School Stadium.  The 13th seeded Gators’ miracle run in the WPIAL playoffs came to an end thanks to a dominating performance from the Panthers.  Goal Keeper Kyle Toth and defenseman Matt Mammarella were stalwart acting as the last line of defense for Geibel and had it not been for their stellar play the score could have been higher.  Sewickley kept up the pressure the entire game attacking Geibel in waves.  Justin Pryor started the scoring at the 32:17 mark of the first half converting on Matt Teitlebaum’s crossing pass for the assist.  The score remained 1-0 until the 9:17 mark of the 1st half when Ryder MacDougall headed a perfect set- up from Mike Napoleon’s corner kick into the open Gator net.  The score remained 2-0 through the half and almost halfway through the 2nd half until Tom Mulholland capitalized on a lead pass from Andrew Curran to make it 3-0 Sewickley.  Less than a minute later Ben Mulholland put on a dribbling show as he weaved through the Geibel defense and blasted the ball past Toth for the unassisted goal.  The scoring rounded out at the 7:54 mark of the 2nd half when Teitlebaum deflected a shot from Ryder MacDougall into the net.  Sewickley keeper O’Neil was not really tested during the match as the Sewickley defense provided text-work protection for him.  The win sends the Panthers into a matchup with Winchester Thurston at Highmark Stadium while Geibel will play Vincentian Academy on Wednesday at a time and site to be determined.

Winchester Thurston Bears 1 – Vincentian Academy Royals 0 
In a game that pitted two (Winchester Thurston) vs three (Vincentian Academy) seeds the teams did not disappoint. The first half was a battle of wills with both teams playing to a 0-0 draw on the scoreboard and the tempo of the game reflected that draw. Both teams like heavyweight fighters wanted to get a feel for their opponent and not show any glaring holes on their defense.  The second half was a different story as Winchester Thurston came out firing.  They took advantage of a few Vincentian Academy miscues at the mid field to put a lot of pressure on Vincentian Academy Royals’ keeper Cameron Fuller. Both teams played to a draw through the first 26 minutes and it seemed as if we were going to over time. That is until the foot of Lucas Rosenblat connected on a line drive shot from about 30 yards out on a ball that squatted out to him from the corner. Rosenblat’s shot went opposite side lower half of the net and the Winchester Thurston Bears took the lead.  The was absolutely nothing keeper Fuller could do about it as he had to protect the other post while the ball was being batted around in the corner.  The Bears played to the 1-0 victory in the last 14 minutes of the second half.  The Bears will go on to play the top seeded Sewickley Academy Panthers at Highmark Stadium in the championship round, while the Royals will face Geibel Catholic Gators in the consolation game to determine who the third team from District 7 is into the State Tournament.


Seneca Valley Raiders 2 – Penn-Trafford Warriors 1 in Overtime Shootout
The Seneca Valley Lady Raiders topped Penn-Trafford 2-1 in a shootout Monday night placing themselves in the AAA WPIAL Championship.  From Baldwin High School, the two teams clashed in about as even of a game as you could hope for in a semifinal match. The game started out with back and forth action as the Number 5 seed Warriors brought everything they had against undefeated Seneca Valley.  The teams went into halftime scoreless.  Although there were no goals scored in the first forty minutes of play, the audience saw a fast paced attack on the field as Senior standout keeper Jessica Neill (Seneca Valley) and talented freshman Victoria Johnson (Penn-Trafford) were both tested. The second half picked up right where it left off as both teams came out with a ton of energy.  Junior forward Cassidy Testa got the Raiders on the board first with 29:36 remaining as she netted a powerful shot from the slot past Victoria Johnson.  Penn-Trafford seemed to go away for a little bit, but really picked up the pace down the stretch and striker Taylor Karan buried a header on a cross inside the box to tie it up with just 2:29 remaining to force overtime.  In the first overtime, Seneca Valley absolutely dominated the pace of play as they applied constant pressure. It seemed as if it was a matter of time before they put the game away. That was not the case.  Penn-Trafford then controlled the second overtime and had their chances to end it.  They also wound up unsuccessful in doing so.  The AAA semifinals would then have to be decided by a shootout.  Hannah Nguyen shot first for PT and missed wide.  Alicia Hart gave SV the lead with a big time boot. Kristina Wallace then answered for the Warriors. As Vitoria Johnson would stop Kalyn Serman, the shootout was tied at two goals a piece.  Two tremendous diving stops by Jessica Neil gave Seneca Valley the edge as Kelsey O’Connor and Emily Cekella scored to seal it.  The still undefeated Seneca Valley Raiders will take on Cannon Mac at Highmark Stadium. As for Penn-Trafford, they will play Moon on Wednesday in the consolation match in an attempt to move on to the state playoffs.

Canon-McMillan Big Macs 1 – Moon Tigers 0 
Aideen O’Donoghue’s goal in the 22nd minute held up as the Big Macs used some aggressive defense to knock off the Tigers and head to the championship game this weekend at Highmark Stadium and gain a berth in the upcoming state tournament. The sophomore forward spun to her right and buried a shot into the near upper corner of the net and past Moon keeper Kylie Downs. The Big Macs had lost in four straight quarterfinal games before this season but with help from defenders Abigail Gillespie and Ashlyn Whipple, held the Tigers scoreless for 80 minutes. Moon had a chance to take an early lead when Emma Thomas made a move on keeper Kyra Murphy and had a path to the goal, but Gillespie and Allison Walker combined to keep the ball out of the net and preserve a scoreless game. The Tigers had three chances to tie the game in the second half, leading scorer Delaney Snyder put one off the cross bar in the opening 90 seconds, the freshman also was wide on a header that had Murphy beat but trickled past the near post. Murphy, a senior and all-state keeper last season, redeemed herself with a great sliding challenge on a Kallie Conte drive with just over nine minutes left in regulation time. Canon Mac is now 16-3-1 overall, the Big Macs have won four straight. Moon falls to 18-3 overall, the Tigers will play in Wednesday’s consolation round to see if they advance to the PIAA tournament.


Montour Spartans 2 – South Park Eagles 0 
After years of being in the middle of the pack, it’s safe to say the Montour Spartans girls soccer team has finally arrived. Not only did the 5th seeded Spartans win their first playoff game in program history this season, they also clinched their first WPIAL championship game berth in Class AA with a 2-0 win over top-seeded South Park Monday night at Peters Township High School.  Montour played a strong all-around game, playing stout defense against a high scoring South Park squad. On the other side of the pitch, the Spartans offense was buoyed by strong play from seniors Jane Schleicher and Victoria Kocsuta. The strong play from Montour started in the 1st half and culminated with 7:01 left before halftime. Off a corner kick, Rachel Wheeler got hold of a deflected ball and was able to sneak it by South Park goalkeeper Krista Mosi to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead. That impressive play from Montour would continue throughout the second half. Their solid defense was able to shut down South Park playmakers such as Jordyn Minda, Jenny Vietmeier and Sarah Stanley. Montour won the midfield play and a number of one on one battles, allowing players like Schleicher and Kocsuta to corral lead passes up field. Yet it was another corner kick that would seal the deal for Montour. A Samantha White corner was perfectly placed for Schleicher, who headed it in with 18:49 left in regulation to give Montour a 2-0 lead. Montour goalkeeper Aryana Jones pitched a shutout and played very well in net Monday night. With the win, the magical 2014 season continues for the Montour Spartans. They move on to the WPIAL championship game in Class AA this weekend at Highmark Stadium, where they’ll face the 2nd seeded Mars Planets.

Mars Fighting Planets 3 – Yough Cougars 0 
The Yough Cougars (17-1-2) scored 92 goals prior to Monday night, including the playoffs. Even more staggering, they had allowed none the entire regular season and through round one of the 2014 postseason. South Fayette finally broke through and scored twice on Yough in the Quarterfinals, but still fell 3-2. However, the Semifinals at Big Mac Stadium in Canonsburg were another story as the Mars Fighting Planets (18-3-0) scored early and built an impenetrable wall of defense around their goal box en route to a 3-0 victory. Dillon Wright got what would prove to be the game-winner in the ninth minute off a nice cross from Tori Kopchak. Sabrina Edwards would add some insurance in the 24th minute thanks to a nice throw-in from Judy Kahn. The Cougars got perhaps their best chance in the 50th minute off a corner kick, one of its five on the night, but Mars keeper Sammy Papik was equal to the task on a shot to the near post from 18 yards out. In the 77th minute, Casey Merritt squashed any final hope of a comeback with a gorgeous free kick from 20 yards out, going low and hard from right to left to seal the win. The Planets held the edge in shots, 5-3, a testament to a sound defensive strategy which kept its opponent taking bad perimeter shots nearly the entire game. Mars will now face Montour in the Class AA title game at Highmark Stadium this weekend.


Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions 4 – Mohawk Warriors 1 
The first quarter of play at Big Mac Stadium in Canonsburg went exactly according to plan for Mohawk (14-3-1) against defending state champion Greensburg Central Catholic (20-1-0). The Warriors kept all but one player back on defense, outnumbering the Centurions, just biding their time and waiting for one golden scoring chance for Asheli Freed, who showed just what she could do with such an opportunity (two of them, actually) in the Quarterfinals against Seton-La Salle. In the 21st minute, that patience paid off, when Melissa Verlotte found Freed in the box, and she launched a 15-foot shot from left to right into the top corner over GCC keeper Olivia Binda. Unfortunately for Mohawk, in the end, that goal proved to merely wake the sleeping giant, and Greensburg went on to win by a 4-1 final. The equalizer came in the 36th minute when Megan Shearon’s corner kick found Keli Rosensteel for a deflection. Just 10 minutes of soccer time later, Abbey Skatell got what would prove to be the game-winner, finishing top corner from in close off a feed from Bailey Cartwright. Skatell would return the favor to Cartwright in the 57th minute, and Cartwright would score again from Cassie Sauter in the 61st minute to put the game out of reach. The Centurions showed their hunger to reach the gold medal game after falling the WPIAL Semifinals last year, out-shooting Mohawk 19-3 while holding an 8-0 edge in corner kicks. It will be Freedom going up against GCC at Highmark Stadium this weekend in the Class AA championship.

Freedom Bulldogs 1 – Shady Side Academy Indians 0 
At Mars High School in the WPIAL Girls Single A Soccer playoffs the 11th seeded Freedom Bulldogs upset the 2nd seeded Shady Side Academy Indians by a score of 1-0. In the first half the Indians controlled play and put pressure on the Bulldogs but couldn’t get a good shot on goal. They would have 4 for the half but Freedom keeper Jacklyn Hartle made all 4 saves easily. Freedom also had 4 shots in the first half but couldn’t get anything past Indian keeper Samantha Morlacci. Both teams played strong on defense in the half. Into the second half Freedom stepped up and played a lot stronger game and carried the offense. They finally broke the tie  as Alexa Schwab scored at 16:31 to make it 1-0 Freedom. She took a cross from the far side, got open and punched it in for the lead. The Bulldogs would play amazing defense the rest of the way and hold off the Indians hard push. Shady Side in the last ten minutes was all offense and controlled play and had an excellent opportunity with 8:00 minutes left. The Indians had a free kick from 25 yards out and hit the crossbar, then a loose ball was hit by an Indian which hit the post then on goal. Bulldog Keeper Hartle made the save and Shady Side lost its best chance to tie. In the final minutes the Bulldogs controlled play and would not let the Indians near the Bulldog offensive zone. Freedom has now beaten the number six, three, and two  seeds and will take on the number one seeded Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions on Saturday November 1st at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh.


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