It’s the larger goal that matters.
The Sewickley Academy boys soccer team finished third in WPIAL Class A this season — something that was disappointing for a team that had championship aspirations and projections.
However, entering this week, the Panthers were within striking distance of the bigger, ultimate goal: the state title.
“From day one, our goal was doing well in states,” head coach Uwe Stender said. “Winning the WPIAL is nice, but states is special.”
Sewickley Academy beat Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 3-0, in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals on Saturday at Chartiers Valley High School to advance to the semifinals. That win and the opportunity it created outweighed the WPIAL playoff exit, the coach said.
“There’s disappointment, of course, when you lose,” he said. “But, I think being in the state semifinals is bigger than winning the WPIAL.”
Unfortunately for Sewickley Academy, their hopes for a state title also were dashed Tuesday night. The Panthers dropped a 5-1 decision to Mercyhurst Prep in the PIAA semifinals.
Led by Jose Abdala’s hat trick, the District 10 champion controlled play and advanced to the championship game.
Against OLSH, the Panthers — which are now 15-6-2 overall — were aggressive at the onset and then dominated throughout the game.
“I think we were playing really well from the beginning of the game,” Stender said of quarterfinal game. “We were moving the ball really well. We had an opportunity in the first minute to score … and then we played 80 percent to 85 percent of the game in their half. In time, we broke them down and were able to score three goals.”
He shoots, he scores
The first goal came in the 25th minute, when sophomore Anthony Stinson scored.
Senior Pat Edson scored in the 63rd minute in what Stender called “a really fun goal.”
It started when sophomore Steve Munn “had a nice rip,” as Stender explained. “It would have gone wide, but it hit Edson and bounced off of him into the goal.”
The third goal was scored in the 70th minute by junior Hayden Moyer, the team’s backup goalkeeper who “is also a really good field player,” Stender said.
In fact, all three goals were scored by reserves, something that is a testament to the team’s depth and tendency to substitute players throughout the game.
“There were no injuries. We do sub a lot,” Stender said. “The kids are all good. This was a true team effort. We’re a pretty deep team, and the kids take advantage of opportunities when they have them.”
The “team effort” aspect of the win was especially evident with the Panthers’ defense, which held OLSH to just one shot on goal during the game.
“Our team defense was really strong,” Stender said. “We didn’t need to use our goalkeeper much in that game. OLSH is a good team, we just had a very good day on Saturday.”