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Serra Catholic soccer team's effort paying dividends

| Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, 1:31 a.m.

There were high expectations all along for the Serra Catholic boys soccer team, and the Eagles have done their part to satisfy the challenge.

On Wednesday, when the WPIAL playoff brackets were announced, Serra Catholic (12-3-1) scored the highest showing among qualifying teams in the region, earning a No. 4 seed in Class A after winning the Section 1 title with a 9-0-1 mark, the lone blip a scoreless tie with South Allegheny on Sept. 21.

“It's so hard to win them all,” Serra Catholic coach Don Sabol said, “but just as long as the effort and focus are there, that's all you can ask.”

Serra Catholic, which opens the playoffs with a first-round game against Geibel (10-6-2) on Monday at Laurel Highlands, ended the season on an upswing by beating Section 2 champion South Allegheny, 3-0, in a rematch Oct. 8.

The Gladiators (11-5-2) open the playoffs against Vincentian Academy (13-2-3), also Monday, at South Fayette.

“We're happy with the draw we got,” Sabol said. “We had high expectations coming into the season, but you don't want to be overconfident. Yes, the three losses we have were disappointing for us, but sometimes that can serve as a wake-up call.”

Junior forward Tyler Grebur is a big reason for Serra Catholic's success, scoring 24 goals to become the school's all-time leader with 69.

In addition to Serra Catholic and South Allegheny, two other schools — Class AAA Norwin and class AA Yough — will send boys and girls teams into the playoffs, accounting for 8 of the 10 representatives from the region in the brackets.

The West Mifflin boys and the Elizabeth Forward girls round out the regional qualifiers.

Joining the Serra Catholic boys as section winners from the region are the Section 1-AAA Norwin boys, the Section 1-AA Yough girls and the Section 2-A South Allegheny girls.

The remainder of the schedule on Saturday finds Yough (8-8-1) entertaining Mt. Pleasant (11-5-1) in a Class AA boys preliminary-round game, with the winner advancing to a first-round game Monday at top-seeded West Allegheny (14-0-3), while in girls first-round games, Norwin (14-2-2) welcomes Canon-McMillan (12-3-3) in Class AAA, Elizabeth Forward (11-3-4) travels to Yough (14-4-0) in a Class AA, and South Allegheny (13-3-1) meets New Brighton (9-6-1) at Bethel Park.

Two other boys first-round games — Canon-McMillan (14-2-2) at Norwin (10-6-1) in Class AAA and West Mifflin (8-7-1) at Laurel Highlands (14-3-0) in Class AA — are set for Monday.

The Norwin girls team drew a disappointing No. 8 seed in Class AAA despite an impressive record and signature victories over second-seeded Peters Township, fifth-seeded Baldwin and seventh-seeded Penn-Trafford.

The Knights have been eliminated in the quarterfinals the past two seasons after playing in the championship game in 2010. They last won a WPIAL title in 1997.

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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