Playoff chase nears finish line; Plum faces Gateway
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Fox Chapel already have clinched WPIAL Quad-A boys soccer playoff spots from Section 3-AAA, but the third spot still was up for grabs entering this week, and Plum was right in the thick of things.
“The guys have been really positive about the opportunity to make the playoffs,” Plum head coach Mike Baleno said. “The returning guys knew what it was like to battle for a playoff spot from last year.”
The Mustangs began section play this week at 4-3-2 overall and were hoping to shake off a 4-0 loss against Fox Chapel and a 1-1 tie against Woodland Hills.
Plum was scheduled to host Penn Hills on Tuesday, and the match was to conclude past the deadline for this week's edition.
Another section game against the Indians is set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on the new turf field at Linton Middle School.
Gateway stands in between the two Penn Hills matchups, and the Mustangs and Gators do battle Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Gateway's Antimarino Stadium.
The Gators started the week 3-6 in section play and stayed alive in the playoff race with a 5-1 victory over Allderdice last Thursday.
Gateway was slated to host Fox Chapel on Tuesday and play at Penn Hills on Wednesday in advance of the game against Plum.
“Gateway has continually improved throughout the year,” Baleno said.
“They just got a big win against Allderdice. They needed that. It's going to be a big game and an important one for the playoffs for both of us. It should be a good battle, just like the first game.”
The first meeting between Gateway and Plum at Mustangs Stadium on Sept. 22 went into double overtime.
The Gators led 2-1 at halftime, but a goal by senior defender Bryan Parker in the waning minutes of regulation tied the game.
Midway through the second overtime, Plum junior defender Stephen Hemmerle netted the game-winner.
Parker suffered a concussion in the game against Gateway and hasn't returned to the lineup.
Senior R.J. Geibel went down with a broken collar bone in a loss to Central Catholic on Sept. 25 and isn't expected to return this season.
Junior defender Corey Williams, Baleno said, is just getting back into the lineup after missing a couple of games because of illness.
“We moved some guys around and moved some new guys into spots,” Baleno said. “We lost a little bit of our continuity for a few games. We played well, but we just struggled a little bit to get some wins on the board.”
Plum snapped a three-game winless skid with a 7-0 nonsection victory against McKeesport on Saturday.
Senior forward Shane Rings scored a hat trick, while junior Austin Baer, sophomores Michael McGuire and Ryan Kieffer and freshman Ryan Smith added goals.
The three goals gave Rings a team-best nine for the season.
“That game reassured the guys that they can score goals and play good soccer,” Baleno said. “It helped us refocus and get our style back. We got some good goals against McKeesport, and that will help us moving forward.”
A big reason for the success this season, Baleno said, has been the leadership of the seniors, and that group of nine — Rings, Geibel, Parker, Dan Adamczyk, Matt Baleno, Colin Smith, Ricky Wittman, Zach Linderman and Dan Reid — were honored before a game with Franklin Regional on Oct. 1.
“Our seniors are a good core group,” coach Baleno said. “They are a group we will definitely miss next year. We have a lot of silent leaders who lead by example, on and off the field. We don't have many rah-rah guys.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Man dies in jump from Route 130 overpass onto passing tractor-trailer in Hempfield
- Chick’s Bar in McKeesport catches fire
- Starkey: Penguins’ season impressive so far
- Penguins a love affair for Evancho sisters
- Firefighter hurt in 3-alarm fire at Jefferson Hills restaurant
- None hurt in Duquesne house fire
- Consol Energy files for IPO of coal spin-off
- Singer Joni Mitchell hospitalized in Los Angeles
- Pirates’ search for division title rests on starting rotation’s health
- Pirates again approach Polanco about contract extension
- Hornqvist’s net-front presence with Penguins could be valuable asset