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Southmoreland boys soccer team eventually succumbs to McGuffey

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Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Southmoreland's Luke Zelenik (white) battles for possession with McGuffey's Luke Desmond (left) and Sheldon Gottschalk (right) in McGuffey's end during the first half Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at Russ Grimm Stadium in Alverton.
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Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, 10:58 p.m.
 

The Southmoreland boys soccer team has high hopes of qualifying for the WPIAL Class AA playoffs this season, and a win over visiting McGuffey in a Section 6-AA match Tuesday night would have gone a long way toward the Scotties reaching their goal.

However, the first-place Highlanders (10-3-1, 9-0-1) didn't allow that to happen. McGuffey fell behind by two goals early but rallied with four straight tallies and held on for a clutch 4-3 win.

“We came into the game knowing that to keep our playoff hopes alive, we had to win two of our next three games,” Southmoreland coach Chris Fabian said. “We were hoping to get that started with a win (Tuesday).”

The Scotties (5-7, 5-4) took steps toward victory early in the game as they blitzed the McGuffey zone and were able to score two goals in the first 15 minutes. Jacob Ozoroski started the scoring when he took a feed from Caleb Garstecki and drilled a shot past McGuffey keeper Taylor Pasquariello. Minutes later, Luke Zeleznik got behind the defense on a nice pass from Jake Porter. Zeleznik converted to make it 2-0 in favor of the home team.

But after that, momentum changed.

Tyler Harris scored two goals in just over a minute to tie the game for the Highlanders. Just two minutes after Zeleznik scored, Tyler Harris slid a shot past Brian Shaffer to make it a one-goal game. Then Harris struck again on a penalty kick to tie it.

“I think Tyler Harris is the best player in our section,” McGuffey coach Jim Kita said. “He scored three goals and set up another.”

Tyler Harris helped McGuffey take the lead when he picked up an assist on a goal by Aaron Harris. And before the first half was over, Tyler Harris completed his three-goal night by hitting the back of the net with 20 seconds left.

“We came out and played hard, and got up by two goals,” Fabian said. “But then we got away from our game plan and when you go down two goals to a team like McGuffey, that's a tough hole to climb back. But we tried. I think we played our best game of the year.”

Southmoreland controlled much of the action in the second half, and the Scotties were rewarded with an early goal as Brock Bell hammered a shot into the net off an assist from Josh Dei. But despite some late pressure, the Scotties couldn't get the equalizer as McGuffey held on for the win.

“We knew Southmoreland had a good team, and they came with speed,” Kita said. “But our kids responded. We're young, and maybe this is a good thing for us to have to come back. It's a 4-3 win on the road, and we'll take it.”

Southmoreland's next game is at Waynesburg on Thursday.

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com or 724-626-3534.

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