Canon-McMillan boys soccer team wins WPIAL Class AAA crown
The pseudo-Cinderella story of Canon-McMillan boys soccer continues.
The No. 13 seed Big Macs (18-4) shut out No. 2 Upper St. Clair, 1-0, to claim the WPIAL Class AAA championship at Elizabeth Forward on Saturday.
“One way you can look at it is as a Cinderella story — a 13-seed wins,” Canon-McMillan coach Larry Fingers said. “Another way is that we put a little chip on our shoulder and battled through the playoffs and thought we were a lot better than people gave us credit for.
“But, it's the best story you can probably write — as far as high school soccer goes.”
Canon-McMillan's only goal came from sophomore forward Josh Kruczek with 14 minutes remaining in the first half.
“The ball came to me, and I just took a shot,” Kruczek said. “The shot knuckled, and the goalie couldn't see it very well. I was so happy to see it go in.”
The Big Macs also relied on several saves by junior goalie James Hathaway. Hathaway stopped USC's Troy Kiernan on a penalty kick at the 7-minute mark of the first half.
“James Hathaway was amazing,” Fingers said. “He was absolutely lights-out tonight.”
Canon-McMillan's four regular-season losses came against Upper St. Clair and Peters Township, the team the Big Macs beat in the semifinals. Those teams — all from Section 5-AAA — are the only teams left heading into the PIAA playoffs.
Canon-McMillan will open the state playoffs against Peters Township on Tuesday — the teams' fourth meeting this season.
“It's a two-edge sword,” Fingers said. “To be honest, there's a very good chance we could see Upper St. Clair again if we win.
“During the regular season, I think those games made us a little stronger. We were on the losing edge of four one-goal games.”
Upper St. Clair will meet the champion District 6, 9 or 10 on Tuesday in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
Ray Judy is a freelance writer.