Montour boys secure 1st WPIAL soccer championship
For the first time in school history, Montour brought home a WPIAL boys soccer championship trophy after defeating rival West Allegheny, 1-0, in the Class AAA final Saturday at Highmark Stadium.
The victory comes after the Spartans (16-3-1) lost twice by one goal to their Section 3 rival during the regular season. This time, however, coach Alex Hobbs and his Spartans were on the other end of the closely-contested contest.
“I really can't explain it. It's something I've dreamed of as a coach,” Hobbs said. “We've seen this program through its ups and downs. We've been close. It's really exciting right now to sit back and watch these guys earn it against a really, really good West Allegheny team.
“It could've went either way, but to see these guys, eight seniors on the field for us do it, I'm just speechless.”
Striker Seth Schleicher scored the lone goal with a little over one minute remaining in the first half. The senior took advantage of a misplayed ball in the Indians' (19-2-1) end and settled it directly in front of the net before scooting it toward the right post underneath the diving effort of West Allegheny goalkeeper Braden Wurst.
“I was holding up the field. The goalie had it and didn't really get off a good kick. I got the ball up, and I was just glad I wasn't offsides. I turned and saw the two center backs coming at me. I cut it with my left and had a rip and it went in,” Schleicher said.
“It means the world (to win). I'm so happy. It's so special to get the first one in program history; I'm thrilled.”
Schleicher's goal stood as the difference maker as Montour repelled West Allegheny's repeated efforts to even the score in the second half.
The Spartans' back four forfeited some space to the Indians' scoring attack but refused to break in front of goalkeeper Brian Duggan, who made eight saves to record the shutout. With three minutes remaining, Duggan made a leaping, fingertip save on a Steven Abbott header to preserve the victory.
“Duggan, he's a four-year starter and he's been solid as a rock for us for four years. He leads our school in every single goalie record, so I'm not surprised. I knew he'd come up big,” Hobbs said.
It was West Allegheny's first loss since the season opener. The mindset and performance was there, according to Indians coach Kevin Amos, but it was just Montour's turn to take a close one.
“It's tough to beat a team three times. We knew it was going to be a good game. Every game we played them was decided by one goal. We were down against them before and came back both times,” Amos said.
“We had a little breakdown; that's just how it goes though.”
Both Montour and West Allegheny advanced to the PIAA playoffs, which begin Tuesday.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.