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Golden-haired Mt. Pleasant boys seeking WPIAL gold medals

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, 7:09 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant's Brad Tait (11) keeps his eye on the ball against Freeport in the second half on Thursday Oct. 05, 2017 at Mt. Pleasant.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Mt. Pleasant's Brad Tait (11) keeps his eye on the ball against Freeport in the second half on Thursday Oct. 05, 2017 at Mt. Pleasant.
Freeport's Andrew Nigra (19) challenges Mt. Pleasant's Jack Shirley (14) in the first half on Thursday Oct. 05, 2017 at Mt. Pleasant.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Freeport's Andrew Nigra (19) challenges Mt. Pleasant's Jack Shirley (14) in the first half on Thursday Oct. 05, 2017 at Mt. Pleasant.
Mt. Pleasant's Shane Piper (21) knocks away a penalty on goal against Freeport in the first half on Thursday Oct. 05, 2017 at Mt. Pleasant.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Mt. Pleasant's Shane Piper (21) knocks away a penalty on goal against Freeport in the first half on Thursday Oct. 05, 2017 at Mt. Pleasant.

Mt. Pleasant has put blood, sweat and tears into this boys soccer season. Oh, and blonde hair dye. Lots of blonde hair dye.

The bright coloring isn't as cliche' as the team's other efforts-in-fluidity, just as playoff wins aren't as commonplace in the Vikings' program.

After dying their hair to suit tradition — players, coaches and ball boys alike — for winning the Section 2-AA title with a 12-0 record, the team brought its blonde ambition tour to the WPIAL playoffs and opened with a 5-1 win over Elizabeth Forward Saturday at Norwin.

“Our goal was to win a first-round playoff game,” Mt. Pleasant coach Floyd Snyder said.

“We felt pretty confident coming into the season that we were going to make the playoffs. Now, we want to keep winning.”

The third-seeded Vikings (15-2) had not won a playoff game since 2013 in the preliminary round, or pigtail round.

Their last first-round win came in 2001.

The team has won 13 straight games and has no intention of slowing down.

Mt. Pleasant will play No. 11 Central Valley (9-7-2) in Wednesday's quarterfinals at 8 p.m. at Canon-McMillan.

“There's a lot of pressure off us,” Vikings junior forward Sam Napper said. “I knew we were better than (Elizabeth Forward), but it's kind of like, getting the job done for the first time. Once we started playing, we were fine.”

One might assume anything the Vikings do from this point on would be gravy, but Mt. Pleasant wants more.

“We're not looking at it like that at all,” junior midfielder Brad Tait said. “We're focusing on the path to the finals. We're out to win it all. We want to show people we mean business.”

The Vikings have scored five or more goals eight times this season.

They have has outscored opponents 65-12, and junior goalkeeper Shane Piper has backed a defense that has nine shutouts.

“Confidence is everything for us,” Napper said. “When we're confident and playing well, and stringing passes together, we're a hard team to beat.”

Whether goals or wins, Mt. Pleasant gets it done in bunches.

“These guys are like sharks when there is blood in the water,” Snyder said. “They get ferocious once they get a taste for it. They get at it and step on passes and keep going until they bust the ball down.”

Tait and Napper each scored twice and assisted on a goal each in the playoff win, giving Tait 24 goals for the season and Napper 17.

“Tait with his size and strength does a great job of positioning himself,” Snyder said.

“Some of these guys like Sam and Brad, and Alex Pomarico and Jack (Shirley), they have been contributing since their freshmen year. Three of them started and Jack came off the bench.”

And Shirley rocks a natural blonde pony tail. Better than a pigtail, but still stylish; like a first-round playoff win.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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