Sewickley Academy rebounds to win WPIAL consolation game
The Sewickley Academy boys soccer team didn't experience much adversity this season.
Coach James Boone found it encouraging, then, to see how well his team responded to its first loss of the season.
After a loss to Greensburg Central Catholic in the WPIAL Class A semifinals, the Panthers (18-1-1) blanked Serra Catholic, 3-0, in the consolation game Saturday at Baldwin. The win qualified the team for the PIAA playoffs as the WPIAL's third-place finisher.
“It was a good test for our players — could they bounce back, or were they willing to bounce back?” Boone said. “Obviously, in the 48 hours after that (loss), they did. They took it upon themselves to say, ‘Hey, the season's not going to be over quite yet.' That's just a great feeling for us as a coaching staff that these players are not willing to give up.”
Meanwhile, Boone said the coaching staff spent the days between the semifinals and consolation game correcting what went wrong in the 2-1 loss to Greensburg Central Catholic.
Against the Centurions, Boone said, the Panthers didn't play as aggressively in the first half as they normally do. As a result, Greensburg Central Catholic took a 2-0 lead into halftime. Senior Steve Munn cut the deficit to 2-1 with a goal in the fifth minute of the second half, but Sewickley Academy couldn't tally an equalizer.
Saturday, the Panthers got off to a fast start when Munn scored in the fifth minute of the game. Junior J.P. Bowell scored two insurance goals, and the defense held Serra Catholic off the board to clinch the victory.
“I think that (first goal) helped with the confidence of our team — say hey, we can still do this,” Boone said. “If we play together, work together as a team, we should be able to get through what in the previous game we couldn't get through. Obviously, any time you score first in the playoffs, it's a big boost to the players and gets the fans more involved. Our players feed off that.”
With the win, Sewickley Academy advanced to the PIAA playoffs, where the Panthers were slated to play District 10 champion Mercer at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Franklin Area High School. The game was played past the deadline for this week's edition.
Boone said the team starts each season with three major goals: a section title, WPIAL title and state title. While the Panthers achieved the first goal and came up short on the second, he likes where the team is overall as it attempts to win its first PIAA championship since 2007.
“I like our chances,” Boone said. “If we play like we did on Saturday (and) get a couple breaks, some lucky bounces, we'll feel very good.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.