Trib Cup: South Fayette boys set to face familiar foe in championship game
The South Fayette boys soccer team's season will culminate in a championship against a familiar foe and a cross-town rival.
The Lions (17-2-2), led by coach Rob Eldridge, will play West Allegheny for the third time this season at Highmark Stadium in Station Square on Saturday and the winner will have both bragging rights and a WPIAL Class AA trophy to show for it.
In the previous two meetings this season, each game ended in a tie — 0-0 and 1-1.
“We're excited about the successes we've had this year,” Eldridge said. “I think there is such familiarity with us and West Allegheny that we're not going to get ready for this game with our typical scouting and game plan.
“We're just gonna stay loose and come Saturday be ready for another round with these guys.”
For their play this season, the Lions are highlighted as this week's Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award feature team, and they are a primary reason why South Fayette is in third place in the Class AAA standings.
Eldridge said this championship carries additional luster given the rivalry between the schools and the backstories with the players. He said West Allegheny has some of the best forwards in the WPIAL and one of the top defenders. Combine that with his skilled forward and one of the best defensive units in the WPIAL, it will be fun to watch.
“I'm really look forward to seeing how the game plays out because we've played them so tight all year,” Eldridge said. “It's nice to be in the spot that we're in right now because in years past, West A really rubbed our noses in the dirt.
“They have a great group over there.”
The Lions pack a potent balance of offense and defense this season, one reason why Eldridge said this team is destined for great things. On the offensive side, junior forward Brian Coyne became one of the area's premier goal scorers with a team-high 29 goals. Junior Jake Thomas also played well this year out wide allowing the Lions to be dangerous offensively.
“Brian without a doubt has carried the load for us offensively and really had a great season, scoring a lot of goals in a very competitive section,” Eldridge said. “Jake Thomas has done a great job for us winning the end line and putting our team in dangerous positions to score some goals.”
On the defensive side, Eldridge said the play of his back line has been the best he's seen in many years of coaching. Senior goalkeeper Alex Gedrys, an all-state and All-WPIAL selection last year — has posted 33 shutouts in the last two seasons.
Dan Pruss, Nick McKee, Mitch Ford and Evan Yee have manned the last line of defense in front of Gedrys. McKee is a converted midfielder who was plugged in to fill the void of the injured Travis Revay.
“I think that without any question, they have not only established a solid back four for us this year,” Eldridge said. “They have put our program on the radar.
“Basically South Fayette is in the discussion as being a solid program that is going to compete with you the entire game thanks to these guys.”
Brian Graham is a freelance writer.