Rally falls short for Riverview boys soccer team
Even after it fell behind top-seeded Sewickley Academy late in the first half of Thursday's WPIAL Class A quarterfinal, Riverview's boys soccer team refused to abandon its go-to tactics and rely on some novel scheme to start a rally.
No, what worked well enough for the Raiders to go unbeaten in their final 13 regular-season games and to win their first-round game against Monessen would serve as the strategic blueprint until the bitter end.
Riverview (12-5-2), relying on a midfield-heavy alignment that required speedy but undersized junior forwards Cole Wilson and Josh Killian to make long runs with the ball, forced the Panthers (15-3) to sweat out their 2-1 win in the biting cold at Mars. The No. 9 Raiders trailed by a goal at halftime and fell further behind just three minutes into the second half, but they rallied and generated multiple chances to tie the game.
Sewickley Academy will play No. 4 Serra Catholic on Monday in the semifinals.
“I knew they had some height (in the back) and some speed up top,” Panthers coach James Boone said. “And they were really good, in terms of speed up top. And No. 9 (junior midfielder Christian Snyder), he's a big boy, along with a couple other guys in the back. They played very well against us. They took it to us.
“I think they did a good job of taking us out of our game plan, so hopefully we'll be able to fix that and do better on Monday.”
For more than 30 minutes, breakaways were the best scoring opportunities for both teams.
“I think the first 15, 20 minutes, we were a little scared of their ranking,” Riverview coach Mickey Namey said. “We just assumed they'd outplay us. Then once we realized that weren't better than us, we hung with them.”
The Panthers, who failed to score with their first six shots on goal, finally beat junior goalkeeper Ludger Oelck. With 5:02 left in the first half, J.P. Bowell dribbled, cut back on a defender and fired to the back post to put Sewickley Academy ahead 1-0.
Connor Zierden added to Sewickley Academy's lead three minutes into the second half. Controlling the ball with his back to the net, he worked away from a defender, spun and shot to the top corner on the back side.
Junior midfielder Christian Snyder provided a spark for Riverview five minutes later when he looped a 40-yard free kick over Sewickley Academy's wall and back to the ground, where it bounced into the the net.
“That's something I feel I've developed a lot as a player, taking free kicks,” Snyder said. “Usually my free kicks are more from 23 to 20 yards out, and that was longer than I'm used to, but now I know I have the potential to put the ball in the net from there.”