WPIAL champion Quaker Valley getting used to working overtime
It took 13 years, but the Quaker Valley boys soccer team finally captured its elusive seventh WPIAL championship.
And it required nearly 110 minutes of tightly contested play to get it.
Sophomore Adam Richert's goal with 4.2 seconds left in double overtime gave the Quakers (18-3-1) a 2-1 victory over Mars in the WPIAL Class AA championship game Saturday at Chartiers Valley High School.
“It was just a relief when that ball hit the back of the net,” Richert said. “It was great.”
The goal ended a sometimes frustrating extra-time sequence for the fourth-seeded Quakers, who dominated both overtime periods offensively but had nothing to show for repeated opportunities at Mars' net.
First, sophomore Matthew Rodgers hit the crossbar with a shot in the sixth minute of overtime. Senior Levi Bowers' shot at a wide-open net with under 90 seconds remaining in the period sailed over the goal. Richert (once) and senior Dante Piccolo (twice) followed suit in double overtime, missing high with their shots.
“It was frustrating,” Quaker Valley coach Gene Klein said. “I thought we were controlling things. We were getting good chances, and we just couldn't put one in.”
With under 20 seconds remaining, Quaker Valley made one final push up the field. The ball entered a pack of players in front of the goal and came to Richert.
This time, he aimed low — and he drilled a shot into the left corner of the net.
“There was a scrum, and the ball popped out,” Richert said. “I saw the keeper was on the right, so I tried to chip it to the left. He just didn't get there, and I got the goal.”
This extra-time winner was Richert's second in the past three games, as his header in overtime of the quarterfinals lifted the Quakers to a 2-1 victory over Hopewell.
And the team as a whole is getting accustomed to coming through in overtime. To win its first WPIAL championship since the 1999 season, Quaker Valley beat Hopewell in overtime in the quarterfinals, South Fayette in double overtime in the semifinals and Mars in double overtime in the final.
“These guys have showed so much heart and so much resilience all year,” Klein said. “We just keep pushing to the end, and this is a great lesson. You just keep playing to the end — that's what we did, and we got the goal.”
Quaker Valley actually overcame a first-half deficit in the game, as Mars scored the opening goal when Matt White took a long pass from Spencer Posey and slipped a shot past goalkeeper Winter Fondi and inside the right post.
While Mars kept threatening, the Quakers' defense kept the Planets (18-3-1) from widening their lead. And that defensive work enabled Quaker Valley to tie it up with 9:20 remaining before halftime, when Bowers headed the ball into the net off a free kick by Piccolo.
The Quakers entered the PIAA tournament Tuesday with a game against General McLane, the second-place finisher in District 10. The game was played past the deadline for this week's edition. Quaker Valley is seeking its first PIAA title since the 2000 season, when it shared the title with Fleetwood.
“It was just a fantastic way to end,” Klein said of the WPIAL final. “I'm so happy for these guys and so happy for our seniors. What a superb group of young men.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.