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Shady Side Academy bounces S. Allegheny from girls soccer playoffs

| Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, 11:00 p.m.
South Allegheny's #10 Meghan Kulka makes a save against Shady Side Academy's #04 Eliza Jimenez during the playoff game at Gateway High School on Wednesday October 24, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

South Allegheny needed to avoid two things to upset Shady Side Academy in the WPIAL Class AA girls soccer quarterfinals.

The Gladiators could not let the Indians dictate pace of play or fall behind early. They fell into both traps Wednesday.

Shady Side Academy sophomore midfielder Kara Pooley set the tone when she scored 58 seconds into the match. Junior midfielder Zoe Schoen had a hat trick by the 31st minute as part of a four-goal night, as the fourth-seeded Indians handed No. 5 South Allegheny (17-1-0) its first loss of the season, 8-0, on Wednesday at Gateway's Antimarino Stadium.

Shady Side Academy (14-4-1) will play Section 1 rival and top-seeded Greensburg Central Catholic (17-1-0), a 7-0 winner over Springdale, in the semifinals Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.

“Giving up a goal in the first minute is never a good way to start a game. We had a plan to try to slow the game down and to counterattack, and that kind of went out the window within a minute,” South Allegheny coach Jesse MacPherson said. “In the first 20 minutes … we were playing hard, and it was kind of an avalanche after that. They started scoring, and we started getting caught off-guard, and it just went downhill from there.”

To illustrate how thoroughly Shady Side Academy controlled the match, consider this: In its first 17 games this season, South Allegheny had allowed only nine goals, posted 10 shutouts and given up as many as two goals only twice.

South Allegheny had not allowed eight goals in a game since a 9-0 loss to Greensburg Central Catholic in the opening round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs Oct. 23, 2010. It was certainly a bitter and surprisingly lopsided loss for a team that won its first outright section title and first WPIAL Class A playoffs games this season.

“It's no different than if it was 5-0 or 6-0,” MacPherson said. “I know that 8-0 looks worse, but either way, we would have gotten our butts kicked. Certainly, we would have wanted to be more competitive, but it doesn't really change anything.”

It all went sideways for South Allegheny after the opening kickoff, as Shady Side Academy broke through the Gladiators' defense and quickly set up shop in the attacking zone. Before the defenders could react, Pooley was alone in front of the net about 6 yards out and scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

South Allegheny had opportunities to tie the score later in the half — notably an uncontested shot from the right side of the goal line at a bad angle by sophomore midfielder Nina Tyszkiewicz that went wide of the far post — but Shady Side Academy was able to regain field position and retake control of the tempo. It paid off at 23:03 when Schoen rifled an open shot past Gladiators goalkeeper Meghan Kulka that started a three-goal barrage in 4:25 that put the game away.

Junior forward Maggie Scott put the Indians ahead, 3-0, at 25:57 with the first of her two first-half goals, then Schoen added her second at 27:28 for a four-goal advantage.

“We've taken incremental steps every year. The first year we were competitive. The second we were good, and this year we won our first section and a playoff game,” MacPherson said. “I told the girls that they met every goal we set for them and next year is a second game, and I use them as an example because that's how we want to play next year if we want to beat them.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.

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