Springdale looks to claim 1st boys soccer title since dominant run in 60s, 70s
Any of Brogan McCutcheon's questions about Springdale's rich soccer history can get answered at a family get-together.
All three of McCutcheon's uncles on his mother's side of the family played for the Dynamos during their glory days in the 1960s and '70s, when they won nine WPIAL championships from 1961-73. One of his uncles, Patrick Hurley, never lost a game in his Springdale career.
Although McCutcheon can't match that spotless accomplishment, he and his teammates will do their best to bring soccer glory to Springdale once more. The Dynamos will play Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in the WPIAL Class A championship game at 8 p.m. Friday at Highmark Stadium.
A title would be a long time coming: Springdale's last came in 1973.
“That's just something we want to bring back,” said McCutcheon, a senior midfielder and captain. “Growing up, you hear those stories. A lot of these guys, their dads have played soccer here, so we're second-generation soccer players at Springdale. Everybody knows how good those teams are, and to finally be in that situation again, to bring it back to Springdale again, is just super cool.”
The titles came fast and furious for Springdale in previous decades, and Springdale's girls soccer team also won WPIAL titles in 1996, '97 and '09.
But the boys' last championship appearance came in 2009, a 2-1 loss to Greensburg Central Catholic. The Dynamos made the semifinals the next season but hadn't been that far since.
“I think we all just know in our hearts that it's really important to this community,” senior defender Logan Panza said. “We all try hard and do our best, and that's really all we can do.”
The rise to Friday's championship game came quickly.
The Dynamos missed the playoffs in 2014 and ‘15 — losses in the section finale eliminated the team both years — and fell in double overtime to Freedom in the 2016 Class A first round.
After a 4-0 victory over Serra Catholic in the first round, the No. 7 Dynamos (15-4-1) posted a pair of 2-1 upsets, over No. 2 Freedom in the quarterfinals and over No. 3 Seton LaSalle in a semifinal game that went to penalty kicks.
“Last year we lost a lot of really good players, and I didn't think we were going to make it this far,” Panza said. “But I think it's part of our chemistry. There's a decent amount of seniors on this team, and we've all played together for years and years, even in community soccer. I think it's all pulling together.”
The Dynamos keep finding ways to win, through injuries and difficult opponents.
Demore and senior midfielder Nick Taliani left the Serra game with injuries, and sophomore midfielder Michael Mitchell left the Seton LaSalle game with another injury.
Springdale also gutted out 80 minutes of regulation soccer, two overtime periods and a full shootout period against Seton LaSalle before sophomore Matt Taliani, the Dynamos' first extra shooter, buried the winner that sent them to the WPIAL championship game.
“It's really cool,” said Demore, who along with senior defensive starter Mario Liberati joined the soccer team prior to last season. “We all thought we were a really good team. (But) beating Freedom, upsetting them, beating Seton, upsetting them, is just a crazy feeling to think we were the seventh seed taking out (No.) 2 and 3.”
To complete the championship, Springdale now must topple the No. 1 seed, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (19-1) — which happens to play in the Dynamos' Section 3-A. The Trojans dominated the first meeting, winning 7-1, but Springdale came up with a strong effort in the rematch, falling 1-0 in overtime on a free kick.
Springdale hopes the third time is the charm.
“Growing up, all these guys played together,” McCutcheon said.
“We know the capabilities of every single guy on this team, especially the ones playing varsity because we've played since we were 4 and 5. So we know that we have the capabilities to do it, and we've got to play the best game of our lives. It's the most important game we've played, and if we do well, then we do well. We've just got to put it out there.”