West Allegheny edges South Fayette for 1st soccer championship
West Allegheny doesn't play a flashy brand of soccer.
Instead, the top-seeded Indians will have to settle for the sparkle of the WPIAL Class AA trophy, which they hoisted for the first time after a 1-0 victory over No. 3 South Fayette Saturday at Highmark Stadium.
“It's indescribable,” senior Zach Graziani said.
Graziani is West Allegheny's best player, and he's a center back, the most pivotal position for any defense.
His presence allows West Allegheny to play a formation, most times, with only three defenders, relying heavily on the skills of Graziani.
“He's their wild card,” South Fayette coach Rob Eldridge said. “Zach gets a lot of credit for what he does. He's an exceptional player. But he allows them to be the team that they are.”
That translated into five goals allowed during the entire season, none as West Allegheny outscored its four WPIAL playoff opponents 9-0.
Though Patrick Harmon scored the Indians' goal, forwards Collin Wurst, Cooper Amos and Mike Cummings pressure the opponents' defense.
Goalkeeper Spencer Wolfe had another shutout.
“It definitely is a burden, if I let it be,” said Graziani, a two-time all-state player. “I have so many good players around me, I just try to do my job, do the best I can.”
West Allegheny (18-0-3) was making its first appearance in the title game. South Fayette (17-3-2) reached the 2002 Class A final but lost to Seton-La Salle. West Allegheny had lost in the quarterfinals the past two years.
“They didn't want that feeling again,” West Allegheny coach Kevin Amos said. “They'll do whatever they have to do to get this thing done.”
Both teams will advance to the PIAA Class AA playoffs.
West Allegheny will play the No. 2 seed from District 10. South Fayette has District 5 champion Bedford. Both games are Tuesday, though sites and times have not been finalized.
Harmon gave West Allegheny a 1-0 lead by heading a left-footed cross from senior defender Josh Kolarac in the 12th minute.
Cooper Amos had a chance with less than two minutes to go, but his shot bounced off the outside of the net.
With a defense like West Allegheny's, one goal was more than enough.
“I respect South Fayette,” Graziani said. “But I knew if we put one in, it would be really hard to lose the game.”