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Burrell boys fall short of section title

| Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 12:56 a.m.
Burrell's #08 Peter Spagnolo and (right) Valley's #04 Luke Thimons anticipate the drop during the soccer game at Burrell High School on Thursday October 11, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

The Burrell boys soccer team had the Section 1-AA title in sight, but Valley's solid defense and several frustrating setbacks stopped the Bucs short Thursday.

Burrell produced more scoring chances, but Valley never buckled under the pressure, and the rivals settled for a 0-0 tie through double overtime — a total of 100 minutes of rough and sometimes controversial action at Buccaneer Stadium.

A foul nullified a Burrell goal late in the second half, and the Bucs also had a shot rebound off the left post early in the first overtime.

With the tie in the regular-season finale, Burrell (12-1-2, 9-1-2) was surpassed by Indiana (12-4, 10-2) in the title race. According to the WPIAL website, a win is worth three points, and a tie worth one.

Valley (9-4-3, 8-1-3), experiencing one of the best seasons in team history, claimed third place.

All three squads qualified for the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, which start next Thursday.

“We'll respond in a positive way,” Burrell coach T.J. Trozzi said. “We'll be fine. We've got to be able to handle this.”

Burrell, ranked No. 5 in Class AA by Trib Total Media, forced the majority of the action into Valley's half of the field. Valley junior keeper Josh Noel made nine saves, including several outstanding stops. His Burrell counterpart, senior Alex White, had three saves.

In corner kicks, Burrell dominated, 8-1. But the Bucs failed to make one of those chances count.

Valley coach Andy DeAntonio praised his team's defensive effort.

“Fantastic,” he said. “All year long, that's been the rock of our team. That's been the way we stay in games and win games.”

The action heated up late in the second half. With about 13:30 to play, Valley junior midfielder Tanner Walker landed a corner kick a few feet in front of the net. After a short scramble, Burrell's defenders cleared the ball.

Burrell immediately went on the attack and took a shot at the lower-right corner of the net about 30 seconds later. Noel dove to his left and pushed the ball away.

With about three minutes left, Burrell junior forward Tom Spagnolo headed the ball into the net following a corner kick by freshman midfielder Corey Mazary. But the celebration ended when the goal was erased by a foul. The referee said a Burrell player pushed a Valley defender during the scramble in front of the goal.

“It's not going to change anything, but I saw something different,” Trozzi said.

Early in the first overtime, Burrell chipped a shot over the head of Noel, who charged out from the goal. The ball bounced toward the goal but hit the left post.

About half a minute later, Valley junior forward Dom Guzzi's shot rolled a few feet outside the left post.

Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at pkogut@tribweb.com or 724-224-2696.

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