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Serra ends successful boys soccer season on down note

| Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, 11:59 p.m.
Ronald Vezzani Jr.| For the Daily News Serra Catholic defender Brandon Coddington (5) makes a leaping head block on a Sewickley Academy goal attempt during the WPIAL soccer playoffs at Baldwin High School on Saturday, November 3, 2012.

Serra Catholic was a crazy carom away from playing in the WPIAL Class A boys soccer championship game Saturday at Baldwin and making travel plans for the school's first state tournament match.

Instead, the Eagles season ended with a disappointing two-game losing streak: a 2-1 overtime loss to 10th-seeded Riverside, and a 3-0 defeat to top-seeded Sewickley Academy in the third-place consolation match.

Panthers striker Steve Munn scored what turned out to be the game-winner 4 minutes, 8 seconds into the match, and J.P. Bowell chipped in a pair of insurance goals to eliminate the Eagles.

“This is the furthest that a Serra team has ever gotten, and I'm so proud of these guys for getting this far,” coach Don Sabol said. “The loss (Wednesday against Riverside) really hurt, and I'm not sure if they were over that.”

Serra Catholic led, 1-0, against Riverside with 5:58 remaining and appeared set to advance to the WPIAL Class A championship match for the first time. That was when Riverside junior midfielder Logan Ridgley flopped a weak pass into the box that was inadvertently headed into the Serra Catholic net.

“It was just a fluke bounce,” Sabol said. “Whether you win or whether you lose, everyone contributes.”

Serra Catholic enters next season in unfamiliar territory: It will attempt to defend its first section title in school history. And thanks to the way the Eagles played this season — they won two postseason games and made it to the WPIAL Class A semifinals, both for the first time — losing their final two games will be motivation for 2013.

“There's a lot of disappointment right now, but I feel as this team reflects on what they did, they'll see that this was … the best season the boys soccer team has ever had,” Sabol said. “These boys will realize this as the hours and the days and the weeks go on. They'll realize what they accomplished, and hopefully they gain some character from that.”

Of course, there is regret Serra Catholic was unable to move into the state tournament, but Sewickley Academy came flying out of the gate and had a shot off the crossbar in the first minute that put the Eagles on their heels.

“I think we matched up better with them than our team thought we would,” Sabol said. “If we would have came out fired up in the beginning — and that first goal really hurt — it might have been a different game.”

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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