Serra nips OLSH in OT to reach boys soccer semifinals

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 10:33 p.m.

The Serra Catholic boys soccer team lost only three games in the regular season.

The Eagles came into Thursday night's WPIAL Class A quarterfinal matchup against OLSH (11-5-1) looking for redemption for a narrow defeat suffered at the hands of the Chargers two weeks ago.

They got it by securing a 2-1 victory in overtime.

Serra sophomore Nate Andrews scored the eventual game-winner off a corner kick with 9:25 to play in overtime.

Serra had forced overtime on Tyler Grebur's goal to make it 1-1 with five minutes remaining in regulation.

“We played them earlier in the year and we took the lead, and they came back from a goal down to beat us 2-1,” Serra coach Don Sabol said. “We knew they possessed the ball really well, especially in the center of the field.”

Despite that good control, Serra (13-4-1) had the first opportunity to take the lead on a corner kick that was just wide. OLSH defended well and did an excellent job containing Serra's top scorer, Grebur.

Despite the pressure from Serra, halfway through the first half it was OLSH that broke the deadlock. The ball came to Byron Pollo 20 yards out. The freshman got a shot on Serra's Anthony Koval, who made the save but he wasn't able to hang on and sent the ball out for a corner. Pollo crossed it in again, this time to Dominic DeMino who guided it past Koval for a 1-0 OLSH lead.

“Our strategy was to really get on them, and we did early in the game,” OLSH coach Kip Michel said.

For stretches of the half, OLSH did just that, working the ball well in the middle of the pack. Unfortunately for the Chargers, the goal stretched the game, which opened chances for Serra.

“Then, all of a sudden they started to outplay us,” Michel said. “We stopped playing our game. They were winning balls in our end. Instead of getting into the next gear, we took it back a gear.”

Grebur had several chances cut down by the OLSH defense. Toward the end of the half, Andrews and junior Austin Agosti each had good shots saved by OLSH keeper Mitchell Hendrickson.

In the second half, Serra continued pressuring.

“In the first, we got knocked off of our game. We lost our poise,” Sabol said. “In the second half, we took control. We played our game.”

Ten minutes into the second half, Serra was awarded a penalty kick that was stopped by Hendrickson.

But with five minutes remaining Grebur stepped up. After a save from Koval, Serra charged down the field. The ball bounced around the OLSH penalty area until it landed at Grebur's feet, and the senior sent a calm shot over the keeper to level the score.

With 9:25 remaining in overtime, Andrew Yuill sent the last of four consecutive Serra corners into the box. Andrews leaned in and shouldered home the game-winner. The Eagles move on to face Sewickley Academy in the WPIAL Class A semifinals Monday.

Robert Stinner is a freelance writer.

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