Shaler shocks section champion Pine-Richland
In a game that may not have meant much in regard to the playoff picture or the overall WPIAL boys soccer standings, the Shaler Titans recorded their biggest win of the season and knocked off the previously undefeated section champion Pine-Richland Rams.
Clint McElheny broke a scoreless tie in the first half, and that score proved to be the deciding factor in the game.
“Chad (Palucka) got the ball back to me, and it was me one-on-one with the goalie,” McElheny said. “I put it in the corner for an easy finish.”
The senior's goal may have been of the easier variety, but was not easy was the pressure Pine-Richland put on the Shaler defense in the final 10 minutes of the game in an effort to remain undefeated.
Kirk Zelich was the Titans' keeper, and he said it was the defense in front if him that made the win possible.
“They played great laying out for balls and I have to give the credit to them,” Zelich said.
The senior goalie withstood a furious flurry of shots by the Rams, but having the lead allowed coach Nick Russo to make some defensive adjustments to keep the Rams off the scoreboard.
“I felt we played them well last time (in a 1-0 loss), but this time, we had nothing to lose,” Russo said. “I felt like we played with them the whole game.”
The Titans' playoff aspirations were over, while the Rams wanted to stay out of the loss column. Despite the loss, Pine-Richland coach John Conner said the team can use the loss to refocus for the playoffs.
“We couldn't run down the extra pass (against Shaler) and we played in the air too many times,” Conner said. “We played the flanks well and we wanted to stay undefeated, but it was not in the cards, so we will regroup.”
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.