Serra Catholic's valiant effort falls short against Seton-LaSalle
In an all too familiar feeling, the Serra Catholic Eagles lost in the WPIAL Class A consolation game for the second consecutive year.
This time, Serra fell to Section 3-A champion Seton-LaSalle, 3-2, Wednesday night at Moon Stadium.
“One thing to say is for two years this is the first time this team's went this far, and it's not easy to get this far,'' Serra coach Don Sabol said. “They get a lot of credit for that.”
Serra showed life in the early going, but after spoiling an early chance on a Nick Andrews' free-kick gone awry, the field tilted in Seton's favor and the Eagles got away from their game.
“We weren't happy with their play,” Sabol said. “Seton played well in the first half, but we weren't playing well at all.”
The Rebels (17-3-1) struck first in the 27th minute when Noah Kaib's throw-in found Levi Masua in the box for a header past goalie Anthony Koval.
“We were giving them the field. We weren't making a good touch to move the ball down field,” Sabol said.
Nearly 15 minutes later, Kaib was at it again, this time from the right side of Koval. In a mirror image of the early goal, Kaib threw it in from and found Kevin Hudson's head, which buried it in the back of the net for an early 2-0 first-half lead.
“We were just panicking after those two goals,” Serra forward Tyler Grebur said.
Keib's throw-ins proved lethal as the senior collected two assists from the boundary, while Kevin Hudson scored two goals.
The Eagles couldn't do much on such precise throws but watch and regroup at half.
“I told them it was win or go home,” Sabol said. “That's what we told them at halftime and they turned the tide. It just wasn't enough.”
After resetting, Serra had its best chance to get on the board less than three minutes in to the second.
Grebur was awarded a penalty kick after being tripped cutting toward the goal.
Grebur's shot went over Sean Reiber's head in goal, hit the crossbar, deflected downward right before the goal line and sprung out.
As fate would have it, Grebur was back on the line not even five minutes later after another tripping call. This time, Grebur buried it to the right of Reiber to pull the Eagles (14-5-1) to within one.
“Luckily, my team got in my head and said ‘You'll go back. You'll score. Just keep going.' That really pushed me to keep going and I got the second one that made up for it,” Grebur said.
The Eagles kept the heat on Seton-LaSalle, and after Hudson's second goal off of a Justin Nedzeskey corner-kick made it 3-1, Grebur took it upon himself to lead a comeback, scoring his second goal on a nice cut in the box with just under 20 minutes to go.
“Excellent ball, it was right there. I cut back and scored,” Grebur said. “I told them ‘You know how to play. If you didn't know how to play we wouldn't be here.' “
The one goal lead proved to be one goal too many, though, as countless attempts to even the score were halted by Reiber and Seton-LaSalle's defense.
“I can see it in them,” Sabol said. “It's just hard to lose when you get this far.”
The Eagles finished the year on top of the Section 1-A standings with a 9-0-1 conference record, but failed to place in the WPIAL playoffs and qualify for the PIAA tournament.
“We're glad we got this far, but boy it hurts. It hurts to lose,” Sabol said.
Grebur paced the offense all year with 29 goals, and finished his career at Serra as the school's all-time leading scorer with 74 goals.
The senior commended the team for the way they fought back in his final game in an Eagles jersey.
“We played our game the second half. Coming back from a 2-0 deficit to make it 3-2.,'' Grebur said. “It's a good way to go out, I guess, coming back from that.”
Justin Criado is a freelance writer