Pine-Richland Rams bow out of WPIAL; PIAA title chase
The Pine-Richland boys soccer team tore through the regular season, dropping only one virtually meaningless game after the section title was already safely tucked beneath their belt.
The Rams then focused on the playoffs and continued to dominate. A 4-0 win over Norwin was followed up by a thrilling, 2-1 shootout win over Kiski.
But then came Upper St. Clair, which defeated Pine-Richland, 2-1 in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals
The Rams were taking care of business against defending WPIAL champions, heading to the half tied at 1-1.
Robbie Merz drew first blood for Upper St. Clair with a goal, but Victor Osio answered for the Rams off an assist from Mike Jones.
“It was a chess match,” Pine-Richland coach Jon Conner said. “They came at us pretty good in the midfield, but I feel we held our own.”
The Rams kept the Panthers at bay until the 73rd minute, when Upper St. Clair's Ethan Dysert scored. Dysert's goal came after an injury forced midfielder Pat Sullivan from the game, a situation Conner said was costly for the Rams.
“That goal was a direct result of Pat being out,” Conner said. “That is the kind of thing he usually sweeps up.
“I give Upper St. Clair all the credit in the world. We absorbed a lot of pressure and they just came at us.”
The loss put the Rams in the consolation bracket, where the team lost to Peters Township, 1-0.
Although the Rams fell just short of two of the goals the team set fourth at the beginning of the season, it came away with a section championship and a record of 18-3.
The Rams built a 15-game winning streak to start the season and allowed only 8 goals all season, while scoring 34.
The Rams will graduate several talented seniors and the underclassmen will now look to next year.
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.