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Canon-McMillan boys soccer team wins WPIAL Class AAA crown

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Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review
Upper St. Clair's Robbie Mertz, (R), watches as Canon McMillan's Alex Hannigan, jumps to stop the ball, during the boys soccer championship game,held at Elizabeth Forward High School stadium on Saturday evening, November 3, 2012.
Top high school sports
By Ray Judy
Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, 10:40 p.m.
 

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.

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