South Fayette, other area soccer teams add to their schools’ state-level success
Past and present neighbors remind South Fayette senior Nick McKee, a midfielder and boys soccer captain, of the school’s considerable success in football.
Senior defensive back Jack Relihan lives next door. Senior quarterback Brett Brumbaugh used to reside nearby.
McKee, who considers Relihan and Brumbaugh two of his closest friends, knows the football team might repeat as PIAA Class AA champions — the top-seeded Lions (11-0) are ranked No. 1 in the state and meet No. 5 Seton-La Salle (10-1) on Friday in the WPIAL semifinals.
The senior midfielder wants to have his own tale of heroics in Hershey by week’s end.
McKee and the soccer team (18-4-1) meet Lancaster Mennonite (23-2) at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona with a spot in the PIAA Class AA championship game on the line. South Fayette, which finished third in the WPIAL, reached the state semifinals with a 1-0 upset of 2013 PIAA finalist West Allegheny. Lancaster Mennonite, which placed third in District 3, advanced with a 4-3 victory over previously unbeaten WPIAL champ South Park.
South Fayette never has reached the state finals.
“It’s kind of weird knowing that if you can get to a WPIAL championship from South Fayette and lose, you’re not going to be the best fall sports team because football or cross country probably will be,” McKee said. “We’re all really close friends, no matter the sport, so there’s no jealousy.
“Seeing (the football team) win a state championship proves that it can happen. It’s not out of the realm for a South Fayette team to do it as underdogs. They were underdogs last year in the state championship, and we’ve been underdogs the entire way in the state playoffs.”
South Fayette is one of three WPIAL schools with a chance to double down on PIAA gold with help from a soccer team this fall.
Greensburg Central Catholic’s girls soccer team (23-1), a two-time defending state champion, meets WPIAL runner-up Freedom (15-10) in the Class A state semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny. And its WPIAL champion girls volleyball team will play District 9 winner Clarion in the Class A state semis at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Indiana High School.
Also, Winchester Thurston’s WPIAL champion boys soccer team (21-0-1) will play WPIAL runner-up and defending PIAA champ Sewickley Academy (18-2-2) in the state semifinals at 8 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny. Its boys cross country team already won the PIAA Class A championship.
“They’re definitely kind of an inspiration — like they did it, so why can’t we,” said Bears senior forward Adrian Bayemi, who has scored 28 goals. “We want to bring home two state titles. I personally have a lot of friends on the cross country team, and we’ve talked about wanting to be able to come back in five years and talk about that.”
South Fayette’s McKee, recently named an all-state selection, played soccer and football until sixth grade, when he had to choose between them. He lined up at quarterback as a kid, while Brumbaugh — now the WPIAL’s all-time leading passer — was an offensive lineman because of size restrictions.
“I like when we go play pick-up football now because (Brumbaugh) likes to play wide receiver because he’s so big and has good hands, and I like to play quarterback,” McKee said. “I say my throws are better than his — just putting it out there.”