Kiernan named Almanac MVP
This Troye stands out as region’s best player
Joseph Kiernan loves the Dallas Cowboys so much that when his wife, Donna, gave birth to a second son 18 years ago, he named the boy after Troy Aikman only with a slight variation. He added the letter E.
“Because they wanted me to be different,” explained Troye Kiernan. “I like it. It makes me stand out.”
The young Kiernan definitely is different from the Hall of Fame signal caller. He quarterbacks the Upper St. Clair soccer team. And, he, indeed, stands out.
“Troye was the dominant player in the midfield and the driving force behind our success,” said head coach Uwe Schneider.
For three years in a row, Kiernan guided the Panthers to the PIAA championships and an amazing 65-5-4 overall record. He capped his scholastic career by helping USC win its second straight state title with a 4-0 victory over Conestoga Valley on Nov. 16 at Hersheypark Stadium. Kiernan contributed a tally in that win and finished with 20 goals and two assists for the season.
“It’s very special to play and make the state finals once, but to do it three times in a row is truly amazing. I’ve been fortunate. Blessed to be there,” said Kiernan. “There are great players all around the area and some don’t even win a WPIAL title and we won two state trophies.”
Kiernan does have a district title to his name. That trophy came his sophomore season. For the past two years, the Panthers have been WPIAL runners-up, losing 1-0 decisions to Canon-McMillan and Peters Township, even though they were the favorite as well as a nationally ranked team.
“We had a target on us. We got every team’s best games,” Kiernan said. “Teams wanted to beat us. Each game, everybody went into it marking (us) on the calendar as ‘our big game’ so we couldn’t overlook any team.”
While some speculated the Panthers were cocky about winning the district, Kiernan disputed that fact, particularly since the championship venue was home to Pittsburgh’s professional soccer club, the Riverhounds.
“I loved playing at Highmark Stadium. The atmosphere with the view of the City, the wide field,” said Kiernan. “The result just wasn’t good.
“We came out hard,” he continued of the loss to Peters Township on Nov. 1. “We weren’t overconfident because we had beaten them 6-1 in our previous game but we went into the game knowing we can beat this team. They played a great game and finished their one chance.
“But,” he added, “if you keep working, hopefully good things happen.”
Since age 3, when he started kicking a soccer ball, Kiernan has worked on his game. For a while, he balanced his play with baseball. “I liked both sports but couldn’t continue to do both because soccer was taking up more time,” he explained. “So I decided to stick to one thing.”
As he advanced in years, his skill level improved to the point that Kiernan made the Region I national team. In addition to playing all over the United States, Kiernan has played in Europe and trained in England with West Ham United. Those “worthwhile” experiences have proved the highlights in a career that has included four PA West titles with his Cup team and seven Regional appearances.
However, Kiernan would not trade those times for his high school feats.
“I do like playing high school soccer because you get to represent your school and play with guys that you have known all your life. It’s sad when it ends. Bittersweet really,” he said. “Because the longer you go, the closer you get. I loved playing with all of these guys.
“Definitely winning state titles back-to-back was the highlight, but this year was more special because it was our senior year and these were all my buddies and I was able to do this with them,” Kiernan said.
Kiernan will be on his own next season. He will play Division I soccer for St. Francis University in Loretto, Pa. Coach Michael Casper and the schools’ top 10 physical therapy program made Kiernan’s choice simple.
“I hope to play beyond college and Coach Casper has gotten many of his players to the next level. That’s my dream,” Kiernan said. “It would be nice to make a living out of soccer. That’s my favorite thing to do. I love the sport.”
Kiernan added, however, that he thinks his career pursuits will also fulfill his other passion. “I love to help others,” he said. “I’d love to help others get better.”
With soccer, Kiernan has helped improve the lives of others. His team will donate over $10,000 this Saturday to the Light of Life Mission, thanks to its Goals for Giving project. This autumn, the team raised money for each goal it scored during the regular season. Additionally, with his club team, Kiernan helps with camps for underprivileged youth. “We teach them how to play the game of soccer. We practice and try to help the kids learn, play and enjoy life. My goals are always to represent my community, schools and family well,” he said. While vital to Kiernan, he added, “Family and friends are the most important things in life.”
However, he will accept and cherish honors bestowed upon him. A team captain, this season, Kiernan earned his second straight all-state recognition. In addition to gaining all-section and all-district acclaim, he has also been named Almanac Most Valuable Player for the 2013 soccer season.
“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s really an honor to be MVP. We’ve had great experiences with high school, and with the team doing so well, it’s really a team award.”
Troye Kiernan File
Birthdate: Aug. 27
Parents: Joseph & Donna
School: Upper St. Clair
Favorite class: All the sciences.
Favorite teacher: Physics teacher, Mr. Clayton Yonker.
Achievements: All-state, All-district, All-section selections. Region I team member. Two-time PIAA champion.
College choice: St. Francis University
Career path: Physical therapist
Color: Navy blue
Favorite attire: Long-sleeved Polo shirts and khaki pants.
Favorite player: Mesut Özil. Plays for Arsenal in England.
Favorite food: Wings from Quaker Steak and Lube
Best Restaurant: Outback Steakhouse
Social media choice: Twitter because it’s the newest and best way to social network. It’s easier to get hold of people and know what’s going on.
Destination spot: I love to travel and have done a lot because of soccer but I haven’t been to the Carribean. So I would say there.
Who you would like to have dinner with: Lionel Messi or Troy Aikman.
Favorite singer: Wiz Khalifa or Nelly.