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Deep roster has USC boys primed for title defense

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Upper St. Clair senior Ethan Dysert heads the ball against Canon-McMillan during a Section 5-AAA game at Upper St. Clair.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review</em></div>Upper St. Clair senior Ethan Dysert heads the ball against Canon-McMillan during a Section 5-AAA game at Upper St. Clair.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald - Quaker Valley captain Dante Piccolo, a senior midfielder, during a game against West Allegheny at Chuck Knox Stadium in Leetsdale Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald</em></div>Quaker Valley captain Dante Piccolo, a senior midfielder, during a game against West Allegheny at Chuck Knox Stadium in Leetsdale Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012.

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Players to watch

DANTE PICCOLOsenior, Quaker Valley Lafayette College recruit has scored 10 goals and added eight assists this season for the Quakers, who are coming off wins over West Allegheny and Montour last week.

JAKE T. PROSSERsenior, Thomas Jefferson Scored a hat trick last week to lead TJ to a 5-1 win over Yough.

ADAM TUCKER sophomore, Greensburg C.C. Tallied a hat trick and assist, as the Centurions knocked off Winchester Thurston last week.

SHAUN SPENCER senior, OLSH Made seven saves and earned his fourth shutout of the season to give OLSH a 3-0 win over Neshannock last week.

JARED COLE senior, Springdale Transfer from Central Catholic scored four goals in a 7-2 win over Aquinas Academy last week.

MARIO MASTRANGELO sophomore, Peters Township His four goals paced the Indians to a 12-0 victory over Brashear last week in Section 6-AAA.

Tribune-Review rankings

Class AAA

Team Rec. Pre.

1. Upper St. Clair 6-0-1 1

2. Pine-Richland 9-0-0 2

3. Peters Township 7-1-2 3

4. Franklin Regional 6-0-2 —

5. Bethel Park 8-2-0 4

Out: Seneca Valley 7-2-0 5

Class AA

1. South Park 7-0-0 1

2. Mars 10-0-1 2

3. West Allegheny 8-1-0 3

4. Belle Vernon 7-2-0 4

5. Burrell 7-0-1 —

Out: South Fayette 7-2-1 5

Class A

1. Sewickley Academy 8-0-0 1

2. Seton-La Salle 7-1-0 2

3. Springdale 8-0-0 3

4. Vincentian 5-1-0 —

5. Bishop Canevin 7-3-0 5

Out: South Allegheny 7-2-0 4

Note: Records through sundayGames to watch

RINGGOLD at BETHEL PARK 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

The top two teams in Section 4-AAA face off for the first time this season. Their first match was postponed. Ringgold is on a seven-game win streak in which it's outscored opponents, 44-2.BISHOP CANEVIN at CARLYNTON 7 p.m. Tuesday

Bishop Canevin won the first meeting, 2-1, but Carlynton has gone 6-1-1 since, with its only loss to No. 2 Seton-La Salle. Canevin lost to Seton on Saturday but has outscored opponents, 27-10.SPRINGDALE at VINCENTIAN 4 p.m. Thursday

Springdale, off to an 8-0 start this season, knocked off Vincentian, 1-0, in the first meeting. The Royals have won all five games since by a margin of 35-5.

Top high school sports
Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

For the better part of a generation, Upper St. Clair has been a WPIAL boys soccer powerhouse.

As such, it's not surprising the Panthers are off to an undefeated start three weeks into the season a year after winning the WPIAL Class AAA championship.

Upper St. Clair has a lineup strong enough to earn the Tribune-Review's No. 1 ranking in WPIAL Class AAA.

But where would the Panthers' reserves rank? To hear the team's coach and starters tell it, they'd be a competitive WPIAL team, too. Upper St. Clair is just that deep.

“We're not just 11 kids,” senior defender Wes Burdette said. “There's 22 of us — and anybody can step up in any game.”

“We've getting everybody a lot of playing time,” coach Uwe Schneider said, “and we've found out we have a very deep bench. We can replace whole parts of the team and still be very competitive. Down the road, that will help us as we go into the playoffs.”

The Panthers returned more than half of their starters from a team that went 20-2-2, won the WPIAL and was the PIAA runner-up last season. That group includes a four-year starter in Burdette and the player he shares the team captaincy with, Ethan Dysert.

Dysert, a forward, is in his third season as a major contributor to Upper St. Clair.

“Every single game we go into, we have a target on our backs,” Dysert said. “Other teams come in and they're out to beat us because that could be the highlight of their year because we won WPIALs and went so far last year. It motivates us to play even better than we did last year because we have a title to defend.”

It's much easier to defend a championship when your steady goalkeeper is back. Schneider said senior Joe Conlon — also a baseball player for Upper St. Clair — is even better than he was last season when he allowed three goals in eight postseason games.

“He's become more athletic and become more of a vocal leader of the defense,” Schneider said.

But Colon, of course, isn't the lone reason why Upper St. Clair (6-0-1, 4-0-1 in Section 5-AAA) had allowed only one goal through its first six games before a 2-2 tie with Peters Township Saturday.

Physical senior Jon Erdman and junior Garrett Blake (the only sophomore starter on last season's title-winning team) serve as solid fullbacks, and junior Troye Kiernan and senior Kevin Mack are top defensive midfielders.

Schneider said that this is one of the largest rosters Upper St. Clair has used in his 13 years with the program (11 as head coach). This despite no freshmen playing varsity.

“We're trying to find a balance between keeping everybody happy getting enough playing time and, at the same time, being a very competitive team,” Schneider said.

Perhaps the competition among teammates for roster spots and playing time is part of what keeps the Panthers so hungry despite coming off such a successful season. Only a handful of this season's players were not part of last autumn's postseason run.

“It's more of a burden than a bonus to have been successful the previous season,” Schneider said. “There's no privilege for it; you have to go out and you have to earn anything you get.”

“You haven't won anything yet this year unless you work hard for it and you go out and take it for yourself.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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