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Shady Side Academy finds motivation in dropping regular-season finale

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Shady Side Academy goalkeeper Phil King controls the ball during a game against West Allegheny earlier this season.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Shady Side Academy goalkeeper Phil King controls the ball during a game against West Allegheny earlier this season.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Shady Side Academy goalkeeper Phil King makes a save next to defender Chris Zhang during a game against West Allegheny earlier this season.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Shady Side Academy goalkeeper Phil King makes a save next to defender Chris Zhang during a game against West Allegheny earlier this season.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Shady Side Academy's Gray Garrard (6) battles West Allegheny's Kyle McCracken for a header during a game earlier this season.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Shady Side Academy's Gray Garrard (6) battles West Allegheny's Kyle McCracken for a header during a game earlier this season.

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players to watch

Manny Burton

Carlynton, sophomore, midfield

Burton scored three times to lead Carlynton to a 7-1 win over Brentwood.

Dakota Lange

Kiski Area, junior, forward

Lange's hat trick was the catalyst for the Cavaliers in a 9-1 victory over Connellsville on Thursday.

Scott Carson

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Carson scored the game-winner in overtime, as BCC defeated OLSH, 2-1.

Collin Hall

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Hall scored the game-winning goal Thursday as Greensburg Salem edged Mt. Pleasant, 2-1.

Top 5 rankings

Class AAA

1. Upper St. Clair 15-0-1

2. Bethel Park 13-3-1

3. Peters Township 12-3-1

4. Canon-McMillan 13-2-2

5. Fox Chapel 14-1-0

Class AA

1. West Allegheny 13-0-3

2. South Park 16-1-0

3. Blackhawk 14-1-1

4. South Fayette 14-1-2

5. Shady Side Academy 12-3-0

Class A

1. Sewickley Academy 12-3-0

2. Seton-La Salle 13-2-1

3. Vincentian 13-2-3

4. Beaver County Christian 11-4-0

5. OLSH 9-4-1

­— Not including Monday's results

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Boys soccer Central Catholic at Upper St. Clair 8 p.m. Tuesday

This nonsection contest features two of the area's top Class AAA teams that could be in the running for a WPIAL championship.

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

As Deer Lakes' fans ran onto the soccer field, Shady Side Academy senior Chinedu Okoroafor went through the handshake line, walked to the locker room and started to fume following the Indians' 2-1 loss to the Lancers at Highmark Stadium last Thursday.

“It made my blood boil, but it also made me realize that while we may be good, we're not perfect,” Okoroafor said. “We sat in the locker room for 10 minutes, and nobody said a word.”

While the loss ruined Shady Side's shot at a perfect section season, the Indians are hoping it serves as a tuneup with the WPIAL playoffs approaching.

“It was a wake-up call,” said Evan Brazinski, who, like Okoroafor, is a senior midfielder and one of the team's captains along with senior defender Dan Marous.

“That Deer Lakes game had a playoff atmosphere.”

Which Shady Side (12-3, 11-1) didn't see much of last season thanks to a 3-2 loss in overtime to Indiana, a game in which coach James Meara's team blew a two-goal lead with 10 minutes go.

With all but one starter back, Shady Side Academy has perfected Meara's uptempo system, one that emphasizes possessing the ball and creating plenty of offensive chances, especially early.

“If we get a goal up, we're a tough team to beat,” Meara said. “If teams have to attack us, it leaves a lot of space for our creative players.”

Brazinski leads the Indians with eight goals and 10 assists. Mike Concordia, who's actually more of a lacrosse player, is someone Meara affectionately calls “a nuisance” and has been rewarded with eight goals and four assists.

Okoroafor and sophomore Matt Rytel have seven goals apiece. Sophomore midfielder Gray Garrard is someone who Meara said “has the potential to unlock a defense at any time,” something he's done to the tune of six assists.

“At the end of the day, if you don't have the ball, you can't do much,” Okoroafor said. “By the end of chasing us around for 80 minutes, teams are dead tired. That opens the field up for us.”

One of the things Shady Side Academy has done well this season is applying pressure from the start — and it's something the Indians didn't do against Deer Lakes.

After giving up a goal within the first 10 minutes, Shady Side battled back. But it obviously wasn't enough as Deer Lakes finished the upset.

“We were overconfident, and it came back to bite us,” Okoroafor said.

One of the things Shady Side Academy took away was correcting its defensive shape, Okoroafor said. Also communicating more so defenders are not marking the same forwards, something that happened against the Lancers.

“We walked in the locker room, and you could hear them celebrating,” Brazinski said. “Everybody was sitting there, taking it all in. It was a big motivator.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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