USC enters playoffs on positive note
Robbie Mertz (No. 22) gets a leg up on the competition. The junior midfielder scored a goal in Upper St. Clair’s 6-1 victory against Central Catholic. The Panthers are expected to be the top seed in the Class AAA boys’ soccer tournament when the WPIAL announces its playoff pairings. USC finished the regular season, 17-0-1 overall. The Panthers are the defending PIAA state champions. They were district runners-up last fall.
It’s official. After wrapping up the regular season with a decisive victory, 6-1, over Central Catholic, Upper St. Clair enters the WPIAL Class AAA boys’ soccer playoffs as a most deserving No. 1 seed.
The Panthers received a first-round bye in the tournament, scheduled to start Oct. 21. They will play the winner of the Butler vs. Mt. Lebanon game, being played at 8 p.m. Monday on the Blue Devils’ turf.
In beating the Vikings, the Panthers knocked off the No. 3 seeded team in the playoffs.
Doug Hapeman, Joel Hart, Troye Kiernan, Joseph Bell, Danniel Quiroga and Robbie Mertz racked up the goals. Hart registered two assists. Garrett Blake and Bell also garnered assists.
Only five days prior, the Panthers placed a punctuation mark on their section championship. USC knocked off Peters Township by a similar score. In between those 6-1 triumphs, the Panthers posted a 9-1 win over Ambridge to finish 11-0-1 in Section 5 and blanked Cardinal Mooney from Ohio, 7-0, for their 10th shutout.
USC finished the regular season with a 17-0-1 record. The tie came against section rival Canon-McMillan, 1-1. In that fifth game of the season back on Sept. 10, Mertz scored the equalizer.
USC, which has outscored the opposition, 93-10, this fall, enters the postseason as the defending state champion. The Panthers were district runners-up last year, finishing second to Canon-Mac. They also shared the 2012 section title with Peters.
So expectations are that the Big Macs and the Indians will factor into the Class AAA outcome. Featured on the opposite side of the bracket, Canon-Mac travels to Norwin while Peters hosts North Allegheny in the first round of the playoffs. Both games have an 8 p.m. start Oct. 21.
PT, which tied McGuffey, 2-2, in its regular season finale, finished runner-up to USC in Section 5 with a 9-2-1 record. The Indians enter the playoffs with a 13-3-2 slate.
Canon-Mac, which topped Class AA power South Fayette, 4-1, in its season finale, enters the postseason with a 14-2-2 record. With an 8-2-2 mark, the Big Macs finished third in Section 5, the same position out of which they emerged to win their first-ever WPIAL soccer title in 2012.
In addition to the Vikings, who tied Fox Chapel for the Section 3 lead with an 11-1 record, Seneca Valley is expected to make a run at USC in the WPIAL tournament. The Raiders grabbed the Section 2 banner with a 12-0 mark. They are 14-2-1 overall and considered the No. 2 club in Class AAA. They open playoff action at home, hosting Allderdice.
While Norwin won the Section 1 title, Bethel Park captured the Section 4 league with a 10-1-1 record. However the 13-4-1 Hawks enter the playoffs on the downslide. They have lost two of their last three games, 3-1 against rival Mt. Lebanon in the section finale, and 1-0 against Chartiers Valley on the last day of the regular season.
The Hawks host Kiski at 8 p.m. Oct. 21 in their playoff opener. Should they trumped the Knights, the Hawks would face Central Catholic in the quarterfinals, scheduled for Oct. 24.
The Blue Devils, too, lost their final match, 4-3, to South Park, which is ranked No. 2 in Class AA. Lebo finished 9-1-2 in Section 4 and 10-6-2 overall. Should Lebo top Butler, it would face USC in the quarterfinals. On Oct. 5, USC blanked Lebo at Highmark Stadium, which will be the site of the WPIAL finals, set for Nov. 1-2.
In Class AA, the South Fayette boys grabbed the No. 4 seed and host Mars at 8 p.m. Oct. 21 in their playoff opener. No. 1 seeded West Allegheny, which won the section in which the Lions compete, earned a first-round bye, as did No. 2 South Park. Shady Side Academy is seeded third.
In Class A, Seton-La Salle enters the playoffs ranked second behind Sewickley Academy. The Rebels won the Section 3 title with an 11-0-1 record. They are 14-2-1 overall.
While the Panthers received a first-round bye, SLS plays Aquinas Academy at 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at Shady Side Academy in its Class A playoff opener.
In girls’ soccer, Peters Township is the defending Class AAA champion in the district as well as the state. The Lady Indians, however, are seeded second in the Class AAA tournament, behind top-ranked Seneca Valley. PT plays host to Latrobe at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 in the first round of the playoffs.
Bethel Park was placed on the same side of the bracket as the Lady Indians. The Lady Hawks, who beat PT back on Sept. 7, will open tournament play by hosting Plum at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.
In addition to the Lady Indians, Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon, Canon-McMillan and Upper St. Clair are vying for the title. They were all placed on the Seneca Valley side of the Class AAA bracket. All take to the road Oct. 19 for their first playoff games against Fox Chapel, Norwin and Baldwin respectively. Kickoff is 4 p.m.
South Fayette qualified for the Class AA playoffs. The Lady Lions visit Belle Vernon for a 4 p.m. kickoff Oct. 19.
While Bishop Canevin claimed the Section 3 banner, the Lady Crusaders enters the Class A tournament among the teams expected to reach the semifinals. They are seeded No. 2 behind Greensburg Central Catholic. While the Centurions received a bye, Canevin plays Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at 2 p.m. Oct. 19 at Hopewell.
USC enters playoffs on positive note
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