South Hills showdown set in boys’ soccer
Final Four features local boys’ soccer teams
Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan and Peters Township advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals, making for an all South Hills Final Four in boys’ soccer.
“That just tells you the quality of soccer being played in this area,” said USC head coach Uwe Schneider. “Not only that,” he pointed out. Three of the teams are from Section 5. “That shows how competitive our division is.”
Under Schneider, the Panthers have been to the state finals five times, winning three times since 2003. They are the defending PIAA champions, last year’s district runners-up and one of the top-ranked teams in the country, sporting an 18-0-1 record. All that makes them a target.
After a first-round bye, USC prevailed against its first target, Mt. Lebanon, 4-1, and advanced to its semifinal showdown with Bethel Park set for 8 p.m. Oct. 28 at Baldwin.
“It was a typical hard fought play-off game between two old rivals,” said Schneider. “The physical aspect took away from it being a good soccer game.”
It also resulted in three of Schneider’s players getting seriously injured, including goalie Wil Petley and Shane Sibley, who scored the first goal of the game.
Joel Hart (2) and Troye Kiernan supplied three more tallies giving USC a commanding 4-0 advantage before Lebo managed a goal late in the contest. Rob Mertz garnered an assist in the game.
In BP, USC faces another familiar foe. The two teams tangled earlier this season at Highmark Stadium, the site of this weekend’s WPIAL finals, with the Panthers posting the victory, 2-0.
“It’s another rivalry game. So it will be a tough game,” Schneider said. “Bethel will be a tough game because they are one of the better teams that we have faced all year. When we played them the first time, it was a tight game.”
BP (15-4-1) is accustomed to tight games as the Hawks needed overtime to dispatch Central Catholic and reach the semifinals.
Ninety-two seconds into the extra action, Matt Kotkiewicz scored the gamewinner. During regulation, Sergio Vazquez and Ryan Sproule scored the goals.
Quentin Keibler was spectacular in the nets for BP, stopping as many as 10 shots, before allowing Sproule’s tally, which came in the 75th minute.
For the fourth consecutive year, Peters Township (15-3-2) earned a berth in the semifinals when the Indians toppled Seneca Valley, 2-0.
With 23 minutes left in the first half, Mario Mastrangelo scored the initial goal for PT, off a free kick from Rylen Faloni. Mastrangelo dished off to Troy Eskew for the second tally 12 minutes into the second half.
In goal, Max O’Hare recorded the shutout.
Meanwhile, defending WPIAL champion, Canon-Mac (16-2-2) edged Fox Chapel, 1-0.
Josh Kruczek had the gamewinner. Jake Wilcox assisted. Christian Snatchko excelled in the nets, making four critical saves for the Big Macs.
For the right to play in the WPIAL Class AAA finals, PT and CM battled at 8 p.m. Oct. 28 at Chartiers Valley.
In Class AA action, South Fayette (16-2-2) blanked Laurel Highlands, 2-0. Brian Coyne and Ben Meindl racked up the goals. Alex Gedrys earned the shutout in goal. The Lions faced South Park (18-1) at 8 p.m. Oct. 28 in their semifinal battle at North Allegheny.
In Class A action, for the third time this season, Seton-La Salle (16-2-1) defeated Carlynton. The section rivals met in the quarterfinals at USC.
With the game deadlocked, 1-1, Kevin Hudson scored the decisive goal on a penalty kick. He finished with two tallies while Matt Wilke earned the other score for the Rebels.
With the win, SLS advanced to face Beaver County Christian (13-4) in a Class A semifinal that was set for 8 p.m. Oct. 28 at Hampton.