Upper St. Clair clips Canon-McMillan in PIAA boys soccer
After losing a one-goal heartbreaker to Canon-McMillan in the WPIAL Class AAA boys soccer championship game, the last thing Upper St. Clair wanted in the rematch was to fall behind early.
“That was the first shot on goal, and up until then, we were pretty much dominating,” Upper St. Clair coach Uwe Schneider said. “For a moment we thought, ‘Oh God, not again,' but I had a feeling that it wasn't going to matter so much and that we were going to get back into the game. I think that we were ready to beat them.”
He couldn't have been more right. All-state junior midfielder Troye Kiernan scored off a corner kick with 11:02 remaining in regulation for what turned out to be the game-winning goal to lead Upper St. Clair (20-2-1) to a 3-1 victory over Canon-McMillan (19-5-0) in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals at Chartiers Valley.
“I think we had the play in the second half, and I was just trying to get it on frame and give ourselves a chance,” Kiernan said. “It was unbelievable. We had so many opportunities, this year and we haven't won anything yet, and we just have to just keep going, though, and get some because I think we deserve to win this championship.”
Upper St. Clair, which has not won the state tournament since capturing consecutive titles in 2003-04, will play District 2 champion Delaware Valley (17-1-0) in the Western Region finals Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. The winner will play in the title game at Hersheypark Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Whichever teams gets there, however, will be playing after a long road trip. Because Delaware Valley is in Milford, in the northwest corner of the state along the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border, and Upper St. Clair is nearly 350 miles away in the southwest, both teams will make a considerable trek to a neutral site.
“I think they're used to it because we had two trips to Erie already this year and we did fine,” Schneider said. “We'll just get there early and get off the bus and get our legs back, and I think they enjoy that more than playing another WPIAL team from around here.”
In the early going it appeared Upper St. Clair might again fall victim to Canon-McMillan's charmed run. The Big Macs were the No. 13 seed in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs but pulled off four upsets, including a 1-0 victory over the second-seeded Panthers to win the title.
This time, after controlling the territorial play from the opening kickoff, Upper St. Clair fell behind because of a fluke play around its own net. Goalkeeper Joe Conlon made a save on a shot but could not control the rebound at the left side of the net.
Once the ball hit the ground after the bobble, Josh Kruczek took a quick pass and slammed home a shot from point-blank range to give the Big Macs a 1-0 lead 8:56 into the match.
That was how it stayed until Canon-McMillan goalkeeper James Hathaway bobbled a save and Kevin Muck converted it into the tying goal with 5:06 left in the first half.
Kiernan scored to give Upper St. Clair the lead and Ethan Dysert added an insurance goal with 1:53 remaining in regulation.
“The thing we were looking for most from this game was revenge,” Kiernan said. “That really motivated us.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.