Sewickley Academy boys celebrate state soccer championship
After reaching the PIAA Class A title game last season, the 2013 Sewickley Academy boys soccer team came in with high expectations.
Friday, the Panthers met the final one.
Sewickley Academy defeated Mountain View, 4-2, to capture the school's third PIAA title. The Panthers had previously won the WPIAL and Section 1-A crowns.
“It means a lot,” Sewickley Academy coach James Boone said. “And not just to the team but the school and community. This is my fifth year as a coach here and second as the head coach. I have known a lot of these players since they were in eighth grade since I had coached the middle school and JV teams. We knew this group would be a good one.”
Mountain View wasn't a stranger to the Panthers, as the Eagles captured a 1-0 win in the PIAA title game between the two teams last season.
The Panthers (21-3) trailed 1-0 at the break, but nine minutes into the second half Anthony Stinson scored to tie the game. Ten minutes after Sewickley Academy's first goal, Stinson scored again to give the Panthers a one-goal lead.
Late goals by Connor Zierden and Matt Teitelbaum put the game out of reach. Sewickley Academy's victory ended Mountain View's 35-game win streak.
“We were never in panic mode, even when we were down,” Boone said. “We switched our alignment to put more pressure on their defense, and a couple of balls bounced our way. We were able to stick to the game plan, unlike last season.”
The PIAA title is the first for the team since 1997. Sewickley Academy's only losses this season were to Class AAA's Moon, Class AA's West Allegheny — which won the WPIAL title and reached the PIAA title game — and Mercyhurst Prep, which Sewickley Academy defeated in the PIAA quarterfinals, 2-1.
The win was the final game for 13 seniors — David Batleon, J.P. Bowell, Erik Dietrich, Ben DiNardo, Mike Ganz, Keegan MacDougall, Jack Matten, Grady Moyer, Steve Munn, Tom Pregel, Stinson and Zierden.
The group has been one of the most successful in program history, winning 54 games during their four years together.
“They have stuck together,” Boone said. “Sometimes in private schools, players will go back to their district but these guys didn't. I have seen them grow from boys into young men. They have had setbacks, but they learned from them. The memory of smiles on their faces after they won the title will be with me for a long time.”
And while the team will need to rebuild next season, the cupboard is not bare. Sophomore goalkeeper Jackson O'Neill recorded 14 shutouts, while sophomores Geoffrey Schuchardt, a midfielder, and Teitelbaum, a defender, both were starters this season.
Also, Sewickley Academy's junior varsity team was undefeated.
While the returning players will have big shoes to fill, the lessons they learned from this seniors should prove to be invaluable as they move forward.
“Our seniors and captains did a good job of setting the standard for the team,” Boone said. “Making these playoff runs instills into the younger players how hard you have to work to reach our goals, whether it is a WPIAL or state title or whatever. They learned a lot on what you have to do to be the best.”