Upper St. Clair boys soccer team wins state title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
HERSHEY — Upper St. Clair goalkeeper Joe Conlan knew he would have his work cut out for him when he went between the pipes against Wilson-West Lawn.
“That offense was easily the best we've faced all year,” Conlan said. “Their top player (forward Adam Bainbridge) was one of the best players I've seen all season with his size and his ability on the ball. He's just an unbelievable player.”
And yet, it wasn't Bainbridge who had the biggest impact in the match.
Sophomore midfielder Doug Hapeman scored the only goal as Upper St. Clair (22-2-1) defeated Wilson (25-3-1), 1-0, in the PIAA Class AAA championship at Hersheypark Stadium.
On a team filled with offensive standouts, including junior all-state midfielder Troy Kiernan, he might have been one of the unlikeliest players to score the game-winner — and he was the first to admit it.
“I was marking (Bainbridge) and he went in the box to defend, and I just stayed up high. West (Burdette) played a great ball over, I was unmarked and I found a way to get it in the back of the net,” Hapeman said. “We have so many tremendous players on this team and I'm just glad to be a part of it and, no, I didn't think it would be me.”
It was the third state title for Upper St. Clair and the first since winning consecutive championships in 2003-04. The Panthers were also able to erase some of the bitterness of a disappointing 1-0 loss to Conestoga in the 2011 state finals.
“It means everything, because ever since the first time I touched a soccer ball, and this entire class, this is what we've been waiting for,” Conlan said.
“We've wanted to do this ever since we were kids. This is everything to us. When we lost that title last year we said we'd get back here and win the title, and we made it a reality.”
To make it happen, Upper St. Clair completely retooled its defense and gave Wilson a look it had never seen. Despite having several outstanding scoring opportunities in the match, the Bulldogs appeared confused at times on how to attack the Panthers' setup.
“We have not played with that defense all year long,” Upper St. Clair coach Uwe Schneider said. “We put Doug Hapeman in a position he hasn't played all year, but we knew we needed somebody to match up with their big man. Our defense was makeshift with three or four different setups, and what we put on the field in the end really worked.”
Even with the adjustments Wilson had a final flurry in the last minute, but Upper St. Clair calmly shut it down and closed it out.
“That happens every time you're up with a lead. You expect that little shot after shot at the end,” Conlas said. “We've had that all year, we know it's going to come, we knew how to prepare for it and we got out of it fine.”
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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Crosby, Malkin didn’t sign on for this
- Penguins’ Malkin: ‘We’re not a championship team’
- Penguins eliminated with Game 5 overtime loss to Rangers
- Cole shuts down Diamondbacks as Pirates open road trip with victory
- First Amendment experts decry Plum authorities’ warning to students
- Fleury valiant in defeat
- All Pennsylvanians to pay more, GOP gleans from report on Wolf’s tax plan
- Pittsburgh man identified as Manchester shooting victim
- 2 Hempfield Area students charged with sexting
- Rangers’ defensive plan against Penguins was unwavering
- Pitt introduces Barnes as athletic director