USC dominates Almanac Elite Eleven All-Star listPublished Dec 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm (Updated Dec 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm)
Upper St. Clair dominated the boys’ soccer season by reaching the PIAA finals for the third year in a row, winning back-to-back state titles. The Panthers lead the list of Almanac all-stars.
Eleanor Bailey / Staff
Order a Print
In scholastic boys’ soccer, it was another state championship season for Upper St. Clair. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the Panthers dominate this year’s Almanac Elite Eleven all-star list. The Panthers claimed all three top honors including MVP with Troye Kiernan (see related article), Rookie of the Year with Adam Heil and Coach of the Year with Uwe Schneider. The Panthers, who finished ranked fourth in the nation, posted a 23-1-1 record on their way to a second straight PIAA title. USC’s lone loss came in the form of a 1-0 decision against Peters Township in the WPIAL District 7 final. The tie, 1-1, came in Section 5-AAA action against Canon-McMillan.
Joel Hart headlined an offense that racked up 122 goals on the year. The senior became the school’s all-time leading scorer when he punched in 37 tallies. The American University recruit added 14 assists. For his efforts, he gained all-section, all-district and all-state acclaim.
Robbie Mertz picked up all three of those laurels as well. The junior captain engineered the USC offense, dishing up a team-high 21 assists. He also provided five goals to the attack. “Technically,” said Schneider, “Robbie is a very talented player.”
While noted for its spectacular offensive output, USC boasted an impregnable defense. The Panthers surrendered 14 goals all season, and only one came in state playoff action. Pat Miller and Doug Hapeman were two reasons for USC’s strong play in the back.
A senior, Miller earned all-WPIAL recognition. Of the three-year starter, Schneider said, “Pat was the work horse in the midfield and in the back four. He was a very versatile player.”
A junior, Hapeman started every game in the back four. The all-section performer, however, provided offensive punch when most needed, scoring goals in each of the team’s two consecutive state championship games. He finished with nine goals and two assists for the season.
As a sophomore, Heil started every game in the midfield for USC. He racked up eight goals and provided four assists. “He’s a very talented player,” said Schneider.
PT trio shines
Three Peters Township players joined the Panthers on the Almanac Elite Eleven list and all three garnered all-district honors as well.
A senior, Max Lindsay anchored the Indians’ defense, which shutdown the Panthers, 1-0, in the WPIAL Class AAA championship contest. The senior captained PT to 11 shutouts. “Max proved to be a leader and key to a strong back line for us,” said PT head coach Bob Dyer.
On offense, Mario and Nicco Mastrangelo proved a potent 1-2 punch for Peters.
A junior, Mario produced 20 goals and pitched in four assists. “Mario’s a great striker and all-round athlete,” Dyer said. “He strikes a great ball and competes every game.”
A junior, too, Nicco pitched in 18 tallies. He dished up seven assists. “Nicco’s a real competitor, fantastic in the air, great finisher and a leader,” Dyer said.
SF duo excels
For the past three years, South Fayette has proven to be ‘giant killers’ in soccer and Brian Coyne and Alex Gedrys are two reasons why. Both gained all-WPIAL recognition.
Coyne exploded for 25 goals. The junior is the placekicker for the football team. He has contributed 94 points for the gridders.
A senior, Gedrys recorded 18 shutouts. Gedrys has been an anchor on a defense and team that has been to the WPIAL final four for the past two years, losing to eventual champion, Quaker Valley, last year and falling, 1-0, to West Allegheny in this year’s title tilt. In the past three years, the Lions have beaten No. 1 seed (state and district) South Park in 2012, and a WPIAL No. 2 seed (SP) this year.
CM’s Big Mac
Corey McCurdy proved the Big Mac for Canon-McMillan. He fired in five goals and picked up nine assists for CM, which finished third in the WPIAL and posted a 17-4-2 overall record. The Big Macs finished 8-2-2 in Section 5-AAA.
“Corey possessed a team-first attitude,” said Larry Fingers. “He took on a new position within our group that limited his stats, but placed him as one of the backbones of our team. Corey is a selfless player that led the team the entire season as a coach on the field.”
McCurdy gained all-state, all-district and all-section laurels.
Big goal guy
Bethel Park reached the Final Four in the WPIAL tournament and finished fourth overall in the district in part because of goal production from Nick Schindehette. This junior striker exploded for 18 goals and led the Hawks to the Section 4-AAA title. The all-section performer also accumulated six assists for the Hawks, who finished 10-1-1 in their division and 15-6-1 overall.
“Nick had a knack of scoring the ‘big goal’ all year,” said head coach Mike Galietta, who earned Section 4 Coach of the Year laurels.
Among the players garnering honorable mention include:
• Quentin Keibler—This Bethel Park goalkeeper recorded nine shutouts. In the process, the senior earned all-section and all-district recognition. “Quentin single handedly kept us in several matches,” said head coach Mike Galietta.
• Asher Byrne—This senior excelled on a Bethel Park defense that surrendered only 19 goals.
• Josh Kruczek—This junior led Canon-McMillan with 20 goals and eight assists. A big body, says head coach Larry Fingers, “Josh had the ability to score in a variety of ways.” He gained all-WPIAL laurels.
• Ivan Viveros—This senior supplied the Big Macs’ offensive with nine goals and eight assists. He played every position on the field at some point during the season. “Ivan regularly was moved into position to exploit other teams or to bring energy and a different dynamic to a certain area of the field,” explained Fingers. Viveros earned all-district and all-section honors.
• Nick Sodini—This sophomore scored 13 goals and had 5 assists for Canon-McMillan. Small crafty dynamic player, says Fingers, “Nick drew a lot of attention from other teams and freed up his teammates.”
• Alex Hannigan—One of the top goalkeepers in the WPIAL, this center back was a valuable asset in the field helping to secure the Big Mac defense “Alex was the ultimate team player, committed to having a successful season,” said Finders.
• Bryan Sontag-This senior earned all-district and all-section honors. “He paired with Hannigan as a center back and shored up our defensive unit this year,” said Fingers.
• Calvin Boyle and Jessie Tinnery—These two senior goalkeepers earned all-WPIAL honors. Boyle was named to the all-state squad. Chartiers Valley posted six shutouts and allowed 28 goals this fall.
• Matt Collins—This senior midfielder earned all-state, all-district and all-section honors for Mt. Lebanon, which finished 11-7-2 overall after falling in the first round of the WPIAL tournament.
• Kevin Caste—This junior also solidified the Blue Devils’ midfield. He garnered all-section and all-district laurels for Lebo, which finished runner-up to Bethel Park with a 9-1-2 record.
• Max O’Hare—This senior goalkeeper recorded eight shutouts, his biggest a 1-0 decision against rival Upper St. Clair in the WPIAL Class AAA championship game. Peters Township posted 11 total shutouts during an 18-4-2 season. “Max was the emotional leader of the team,” explained head coach Bob Dyer. “He had a great ability to keep the ball out of the net at all costs.”
• Troy Eskew—This senior racked up eight goals and nine assists for Peters Township, which finished as the Section 5-AAA runner-up with a 9-2-1 mark.
• Ryan Ponchione—This junior handled the Indians’ corners as well as free kicks. A defensive midfielder, he led the team with 10 assists. He also provided three goals.
• Kevin Hudson—This senior midfielder led Seton-La Salle in scoring with 15 goals, seven of them gamewinners. The captain also managed two assists. “He was a standout in the midfield,” said head coach Ryan Kelly. “Our success was predicated on his contributions all season.”
• Noah Kaib—This senior marked up opponent’s best offensive players. “He was our shutdown defender,” said Kelly. In addition to supplying two goals to the Rebels’ offense, he also was the team’s top distributor, picking up 13 assists. • Levi Masua—In his first season of soccer, this senior forward relied on his basketball skills as well as his physical attributes to help the Rebels reach the second round of the Class A playoffs. He fired in 10 goals and picked up 10 assists.
• Dan Pruss and Evan Yee—This South Fayette duo gained all-district honors. The seniors anchored a defense that recorded 18 shutouts. “They would start for any team in the WPIAL in any classification,” said head coach Rob Eldrige. “They both are shutdown defenders and big reasons for our success.” The Lions were WPIAL Class AA runners-up and finished with a 17-4-2 overall record.
Players to watch
Among the players to watch in the future include:
• Michael Horgan—This sophomore defender started every game for Bethel Park. According to head coach Mike Galietta, “Michael was one of the most, if not the most, consistent player for us, game in and game out.”
• Christian Snatchko—In his first year as a starter, this sophomore recorded 12 shutouts and led Canon-McMillan to a third-place finish in the WPIAL and a PIAA playoff berth.
• Luke Maher—This sophomore started his first year at left back for the Big Macs. “Luke was our lock down defender,” said head coach Larry Fingers. “He grew into a very important player for us as the season went on.”
• Matt Massucci—This sophomore midfielder scored the game-winning goal in Peters Township’s Final Four victory over Canon-McMillan and assisted on the only tally in the WPIAL final, a 1-0 win over Upper St. Clair. On the year, he had two goals and one assist.