Overtime score leads Bethel Park past Central Catholic
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Matt Kotkiewicz didn't give up on the play.
As a result, the Bethel Park boys soccer team doesn't have to give up on its season.
Kotkiewicz chased down a bouncing ball and scored off a rebound 92 seconds into the first overtime period to carry the Black Hawks to a 2-1 victory over No. 4 Central Catholic in a WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal at Baldwin.
Central Catholic defender Zane Stiles challenged to break up the play, but despite the effort, the ball ricocheted off of him and past goalkeeper Oscar Marroquin, an unlucky play for Central Catholic.
“I just touched it and kept running through it,” said Kotkiewicz, a junior midfielder. “Gotta stay with the ball. I got the rebound, and it went in.”
The win was the second emotional one for Bethel Park this week. In the first round, the Black Hawks topped Kiski Area on penalty kicks.
“We wanted nothing more than to get a playoff win,” goalkeeper Quentin Keibler said. “Now we have a chance to go to states.”
Keibler made 11 saves and was nothing short of spectacular for Bethel Park on a night where Central Catholic dominated play for large chunks of time.
Not that he wanted any credit for it.
“It was pretty busy,” Keibler said. “But we put in two to their one and got the win. Everybody plays a part. I just played mine.”
Bethel Park advanced to Monday's semifinal round and will play No. 1 Upper St. Clair, site and time to be determined.
Central Catholic, which split the Section 4-AAA title with Fox Chapel, finished 14-4-1.
Central Catholic's Ryan Sproule turned and fired a powerful shot in the 13th minute, one Keibler tracked perfectly and stopped.
Forward Sergio Vazquez put the Black Hawks ahead, 1-0, in the 26th minute by finishing a cross.
The play was kept alive along the left sideline with an alert keep-in from Kotkiewicz.
Central Catholic midfielder Justin Beiriger executed a beautiful, give-and-go play with fellow midfielder Jarod McDowell in the 54th minute, but Beiriger's shot sailed wide right, preserving Bethel Park's 1-0 lead.
Keibler made an even more impressive save a few minutes later, robbing Matt O'Donnell, who had the only goal to down Ringgold in the first round, from just over 20 yards.
Sproule finally converted in the 75th minute when a loose ball rolled behind Keibler.
From only a few yards out, all Sproule had to do was hammer it home for a goal.
“Bethel Park is a good team, but I thought tonight we were better,” Central Catholic coach Claudio Morini said. “But that's sometimes just the way soccer goes.”
Kotkiewicz could attest to that.
His goal, heavy on effort but light on normalcy, proved that perfectly.
“Just a little spurt up the field,” Kotkiewicz said. “We got our chance, and we finished.”
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
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