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Moving to WPIAL an adjustment for Allderdice boys soccer

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Players to watch

VINNY BARONE, jr., East Allegheny A 30-goal scorer as a freshman and 28-goal scorer last season, Barone opened the season by notching a hat trick during a 6-1 win over Jeannette last week.

ZACH LESNICK, jr., Riverview Tallied four goals in a Section 2-A win over West Shamokin last week.

BLAISE PFAFF, sr., Baldwin Scored three goals in victories over Albert Gallatin and McKeesport last week.

Games to watch

PINE-RICHLAND at HAMPTON, 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Two of the top teams in the WPIAL will meet in Section 2-AAA. Hampton, which has won the past two WPIAL titles, moved up from Class AA this season.

HOPEWELL at BLACKHAWK, 7:30 p.m. Thursday

The top two teams in Section 4-AA enter this game unbeaten, each at 3-0, with Blackhawk averaging more than five goals per game.

SOUTH ALLEGHENY at GREENBURG C.C. , 7:30 p.m. Thursday

The Gladiators opened the season with four straight wins and could give defending Section 1-A champion Greensburg Central, Catholic a run for the title.

Tribune-Review rankings

Class AAA

Team Record Prev.

1. Upper St. Clair 2-0-0 1

2. Peters Township 4-0-0 2

3. Seneca Valley 3-0-0 3

4. Central Catholic 4-1-0 5

5. Pine-Richland 3-0-0 —

Out: Hampton 1-2-0 4

Class AA

1. South Park 1-0-0 1

2. Belle Vernon 4-0-0 2

3. Mars 5-0-0 3

4. Quaker Valley 3-1-0 4

5. West Allegheny 4-0-0 5

Class A

1. Seton-La Salle 3-0-0 1

2. Sewickley Academy 3-0-0 3

3. OLSH 1-1-0 2

4. Greensburg C.C. 0-1-0 4

5. Springdale 3-0-0 5

Note: Records don't include Monday's games

Top high school sports
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Bring it on.

So says the Allderdice boys soccer team.

The Dragons are competing in the WPIAL for the first time after decades of dominating the City League. Over the past nine seasons, Allderdice lost only one regular-season City League game and one league playoff game. The team is coming off an undefeated regular season.

This season, things won't be nearly so easy in Section 3-AAA. But instead of shying away from the challenge, the Dragons are facing it head-on.

“We know that, sometimes, we've been viewed as a product of (the competition),” coach Sam Bellin said. “We totally disagree with that.

“We do feel this is an opportunity for us to show exactly how good we are. ... We still feel like we're one of the top teams by any measure in any league or section. To be fair, we have to go out and prove it.”

The early results haven't been overly encouraging. Allderdice is 1-2-1 playing against all WPIAL teams heading into a game Tuesday at Woodland Hills.

The Dragons lost 15 of their top 18 players from last season, so comparing this start to their 20-0 run before losing in the 2011 PIAA playoffs isn't fair.

Still, Allderdice embraces the question of how would a City League power stack up against WPIAL teams over the course of a full season?

“I think we're playing with a chip on our shoulder,” midfielder Xaver Kandler said. “We want to represent the City, and we want to show other teams that just because we were playing these bad teams doesn't mean we're not able to beat good teams now.”

Allderdice has shown it can compete in the WPIAL. Last season, the Dragons were 6-0 against WPIAL teams during the regular season before losing to WPIAL and eventual PIAA Class AAA champion Upper St. Clair in their second PIAA tournament match.

In past seasons, the Dragons often faced one or two respectable league opponents. The others? Not so much.

“Before, it was like you knew that, like, every four games you'd have a challenge,” Kandler said. “Now, it's like every game is a real game and it's a tough opponent. It's so much more exciting because every week is another challenge.”

Kandler, a defensive specialist, joins fellow seniors Aeden Marty and Jonas Portillo as Allderdice's captains this season. Portillo, a sweeper, and center-midfielder Marty were all-City League last season along with fellow returnee Jon Muniain, who had a team-high 29 goals last season.

First-year starters such as senior midfielder Lucas Johnson, freshman fullback Harrison Smith, sophomore fullback Jakob Wells, junior stopper Cameron Fells and senior goalkeeper Alex Kent have stepped up into prominent roles for the Dragons.

“Last year really was a dream season, and it's harder this year,” Bellin said. “We don't have the same experience, but we trying to develop some of these real good young players.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.




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