Bishop Canevin boys soccer ready for Class A playoffs
Just a few weeks ago, a Section 3-A title didn't seem possible for coach Jim Bull and the Bishop Canevin boys soccer team.
On Sept. 25, the Crusaders finished in a 1-1 tie with Carlynton. The tie — along with a 2-1, double-overtime loss to section-leading Seton-La Salle the week before — made it unlikely the squad could fight back to get into the title picture.
“We knew we were a contender when we took (Seton-La Salle) into double overtime,” Bishop Canevin coach Jim Bull said. “We didn't think it was a viable goal after the Carlynton game, though.”
But the Crusaders ended up getting help from the rival Cougars.
Carlynton upset Seton-La Salle, 2-0, on Oct.4, giving the Crusaders and Rebels one section loss each and making their game last week a showdown for the Section 3-A title.
And it was one to remember.
Bishop Canevin's Greg McGuire got the score with only three minutes to go in the second overtime on a penalty kick for a Crusaders 1-0 win. The penalty was caused when a Rebels player handed the ball in the goal box.
“We knew coming in we needed to win the section or we were guaranteed second place,” Bull said. “So we threw it all out on the table. We stuck to our style and got into overtime. We moved some of our better players forward into attacking positions. The pressure was what caused the penalty.
“The defense played great. We defended with our hearts all game.”
The win gave Bishop Canevin its first section title since 2009. That season — also the last season the Crusaders qualified for the postseason — the team went 10-2 in the section and shared the crown with Sewickley Academy.
The Crusaders finished Section 3-A this season with a 10-1-1 mark. Bull credited the defense for coming together this season and giving the Crusaders a chance in each section game. Over the final five section games, the defense was stellar as Bishop Canevin outscored opponents, 19-0.
“At the beginning of the season, we weren't really sure if defense would be a strength or weakness,” Bull said. “But the defenders have shown their ability. The group came together and helped get us where we are. It is a one of our biggest strengths.”
The Crusaders added a 1-0 nonsection win over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart — a team headed to the Class A playoffs out of Section 5. The Crusaders faced Indiana — a Class AA playoff squad — earlier this week as the team prepped for the playoffs. Results were unavailable at press time.
“We want to continue working on the attack,” Bull said. “Just smooth over some of the edges. We want to win the last two nonsection games but not at the expense of health or fitness. So we will be rotating guys in we might not typically.”
Bull said that once the teams from Class A take the field for playoff competition, it will be a battle in each game. He said Sewickley Academy — which is 15-0-1 and the champion of Section 5-A — is the favorite entering the tournament.
After that, anything can happen.
“The way I see it, everyone short of Sewickley Academy is on the same level,” Bull said. “It is wide open. We are right there with everyone.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.