Springdale boys soccer regroups for PIAA playoffs
As Friday's 2-0 loss to Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in the WPIAL Class A title game was still fresh in the minds and on the hearts of the Springdale boys soccer players, Dynamos coach Cesareo Sanchez was quick to remind his players they have more soccer to play.
Sixteen teams from all over the state in Class A, including Springdale and WPIAL colleagues CWNC and Seton LaSalle, recharged over the weekend in preparation for the start of Tuesday's PIAA tournament.
“Any loss, especially one in a WPIAL title game, is hard for any team to get over,” junior goalkeeper Mike Zolnierczyk said. “But we talked (Saturday morning) about our shot to go and win a state championship. We're not done. We're just getting started with what we want to do at states.”
The Dynamos will take on District 5 champion Windber at 7:30 p.m. at Somerset. It's the first meeting between the schools.
“They have good scorers and a tough defense,” Sanchez said. “We have to be prepared to play a full 80 minutes or more.”
North Catholic takes on District 9 runner-up Port Allegany on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Moon, and WPIAL third-place Seton LaSalle travels to DuBois on Tuesday at 6 p.m. to face District 9 champion Brockway.
“We've learned from every tough game in the WPIAL, and nothing was handed to us,” Zolnierczyk said. “We're a better team from what we were in the regular season and even a better team from the start of the playoffs.”
If Springdale and Seton LaSalle win their first-round games, they would meet in a quarterfinal rematch of their WPIAL semifinal thriller won by the Dynamos on penalty kicks.
“I think that one of the three WPIAL teams will make it to the finals,” Sanchez said. “We could play North Catholic or Seton LaSalle again. We'll see what happens.”
Springdale (15-5-1) returns to the PIAA Class A playoffs for the first time since 2009, when it entered as the WPIAL runner-up.
That year, the Dynamos lost to District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep, 3-1, in the first round.
Windber (14-5-2) won this year's District 5 tournament as the No. 5 seed, upsetting the top seed in the semifinals before defeating the No. 6 seed in the championship.
The Ramblers are in the PIAA tournament for the second year in a row as the District 5 champ. Last year, Windber edged District 6 champion Bishop McCort, 2-1, in the first round. The Ramblers then took WPIAL champion Sewickley Academy to the limit in the quarterfinals before the Panthers prevailed in two overtimes.
Springdale senior midfielder Zach Liberati said Windber will be a challenge, but it's one for which the Dynamos are ready.
“We never really try to change much for a particular team, no matter how much we know about them,” he said. “We just want to play the way we play. It's worked for us so far, and we hope it works against Windber.”
Springdale is hoping to be as healthy as possible. Senior midfielder Brogan McCutcheon and senior defender Logan Panza were dinged up in Friday's loss to North Catholic, and leading scorer, senior forward Jared Demore, is still not 100 percent from an ankle injury suffered in the WPIAL first round two weeks ago.
Mike Mitchell returned from concussion protocol for the WPIAL title game, and the Dynamos hope to have Michael Krason back after he has missed the past couple of games.
“The guys have rested their bodies and also have reflected back on what they accomplished in the regular season and playoffs,” Sanchez said. “On Monday, we will meet and get ready for Tuesday.”
The Ramblers will enter Tuesday's match with Springdale down a starter who received a red card for a dangerous tackle in the D-5 title game.