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Canon-McMillan boys upset Norwin in opening round

| Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 10:39 p.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Canon-McMillan's Jake Wilcox moves the ball past Norwin's Corey Hough during the first half of a playoff game at Norwin on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Norwin's Nicco Alessandro (left) and Canon-McMillan's Alexander Ablak battle for the ball during a playoff game at Norwin on Monday, October 21, 2013.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Canon-McMillan's Nicholas Sodini (left) and Christopher Gladden celebrate a first half goal by Sodini during a playoff game against Norwin at Norwin on Monday, October 21, 2013.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Canon-McMillan's James Trainor (left) and Norwin's Jake Hannahs battle for the ball during a playoff game at Norwin on Monday, October 21, 2013.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Canon-McMillan's Alexander Ablak heads the ball in for a first-half goal during a playoff game against Norwin at Norwin on Monday, October 21, 2013.

Perhaps one day the Canon-McMillan boys soccer team will be satisfied with its seeding in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

Until then, the Big Macs will continue taking out their aggression by knocking off higher-seeded teams and busting brackets, something No. 11 Canon-McMillan did with a 4-0, first-round victory at sixth-seeded Norwin on Monday night.

“Once the games count,” Nick Sodini said, “we hit a stride, and we keep going.”

Saddled with the No. 13 seed in 2012, Canon-McMillan ripped off four straight wins en route to the program's first-ever WPIAL title, repeating the nobody-respects-us mantra at every opportunity.

Sophomores Alex Ablak and Sodini each scored a pair of goals Monday, as Canon-McMillan resuscitated that message this season.

“I think we get ripped off a little bit,” Sodini added. “I think we should've been a little higher, but it is what it is. We'll work as hard as we would had we gotten a higher seed.”

Canon-McMillan (15-2-2) advanced to a Thursday quarterfinal against No. 3 Fox Chapel at a site and time to be determined.

Norwin, the Section 1-AAA champion, had earned its first section title since 2010, but the Knights (11-7-1) couldn't push a shot past Christian Snatchko, who helped Canon-Mac hold its opponent scoreless for the 12th time this season.

All of Norwin's previous six losses were by one goal.

“They play a counterattack style,” Norwin coach Scott Schuchert said. “We would have possession then all of a sudden they would be going the other way, at a high pace, on a counterattack.”

Sodini pushed Canon-McMillan ahead 1-0 in the 25th minute when he took a long pass from Josh Kruczek, slipped by two defenders and nudged a shot past a diving Steven Phipps.

That lead grew to 2-0 after a fluke goal in the 37th minute. Norwin defender Dan Passarello misfired on a header. Ablak got credit for the own goal.

“They shut down after two,” Ablak said.

Canon-McMillan nearly got a third first-half score when Corey McCurdy's corner kick found a leaping Jake Trainor. But Phipps left his crease to make the save.

Sodini slammed home a rebound in the 43rd minute. Ablak pestered Phipps then pounced on a loose ball, finishing it in the 63rd minute.

McCurdy, Kruczek and Jake Wilcox strung together a possession for Canon-McMillan about 10 minutes into game, with Wilcox working the right flank. His shot, too, was gobbled up by Phipps.

“The boys played well,” Canon-McMillan coach Larry Fingers said. “We hope they're peaking this year like they were last year.”

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

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