Roundup: USC bounces Mt. Lebo, bound for PIAA finals
When Brett Fackenthal returned from an injury last month, coach Uwe Schneider stuck the offensive-minded junior at fullback.
“He wasn’t too happy about that,” Schneider said.
Fackenthal moved to forward before the playoffs and is giving the Upper St. Clair boys’ soccer team a reason to smile.
Fackenthal scored two goals, including the tie-breaker with 74th minute, as the Panthers topped rival Mt. Lebanon, 3-1, in a PIAA Class AAA semifinal game at Elizabeth Forward High School.
“He’s really been blossoming and he’s been one of our best scorers in the playoffs,” Schneider said. “He really hustles to the ball and somehow gets to the ball and somehow gets the ball across the goal-line. That’s what it takes to be a good forward.”
Upper St. Clair will shoot for its first state title when it meets West Chester East (19-5-1), the third-place team out of District 3, at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.
Upper St. Clair (21-4-1) overcame a game-tying own-goal by junior midfielder Scott Dillie to reach the PIAA finals for the first time in 12 years.
Fackenthal gave Upper St. Clair a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute, taking a long pass from Cam Griffin, beating defender Pat Bowman and firing a shot past Blue Devil goalkeeper Steve Basheda. Upper St. Clair, the fourth-place team from the WPIAL, dominated their South Hills neighbor in the first half.
“Upper St. Clair seemed like they have an extra guy,” Mt. Lebanon coach Ron Wilcher said. “They really got on loose balls and beat us to the punch.”
Mt. Lebanon (17-7-1) applied steady pressure in the second half, including a seemingly sure goal by Kevin Uranker that USC defender Mitch Minerd cleared off the goal-line in the 50th minute.
“If that ball gets in, it changes the game,” Wilcher said.
Mt. Lebanon finally tied the score at 1-all, but it wasn’t a Blue Devil who beat goalkeeper Andrew Baldasare.
Dillie, an all-star midfielder, scored an own-goal trying to clear the ball away from a swarm of Mt. Lebanon players.
“There were a couple of guys coming at me and I tried to bicycle-kick it out and it hit off my toe and fired right into the top corner,” Dillie said. “When Brett scored that goal, I felt a lot of relief. I would have felt terrible and Brett saved me.”
Fackenthal, whose older brother, Devin, will try to put the Upper St. Clair football team in the WPIAL finals on Friday, scored the game-winner — and got Dillie off the hook — in the 74th minute. Basheda stopped a shot by Upper St. Clair junior forward Andy Machi, but Fackenthal got to the loose ball in the goal-mouth and pushed it over the line with his hips for his ninth goal with 6:04 to play.
Dillie added a goal in the 76th minute on a long shot from about 40 yards for a 3-1 lead. Mt. Lebanon ends the season in the PIAA final four after a slow start.
“It was an awesome finish by Grubisha,” Trinity Christian head coach David Schenk said. “Having lost to them in WPIAL Finals, we knew we were going to have to score a goal and we’ve only scored a couple goals in the entire run of the playoffs.”
Trinity Christian, the WPIAL runner-up, now advances to the state finals at Hershey on Saturday to play District 1 champion Christopher Dock, which won the 2002 state championship.
Sewickley Academy 1, Fairview 0 — Brittany Urick scored in the first overtime to send Sewickley Academy (22-3-1) to the PIAA championship game for the second consecutive season.
Both times, Sewickley Academy defeated Fairview.
The Panthers will play District 1 champion Villa Joseph Marie (21-3-1) in the PIAA championship game 1 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium. Villa Joseph Marie defeated Danville, 3-0, Tuesday.
Villa Joseph Marie has won the last three PIAA Class AA championship games, including a 1-0 victory over Sewickley Academy last year, and four of the six titles since the state added Class AA.
is a former freelancer.