West Allegheny avenges loss to Franklin Regional, advances to PIAA final
West Allegheny did something no team had done all season on Tuesday night.
In addition to playing without its starting goalkeeper for the first time in nearly four years — instead starting a keeper who had never played the position before — the Indians managed to score two goals against the supreme defense of Franklin Regional.
No team had done that in 21 previous games.
Franklin Regional had never even trailed in a game this season.
But Fletcher Amos scored both goals to lead West Allegheny to a 2-1 victory and hand the Panthers their first loss in the PIAA Class AAA semifinals at Fox Chapel.
The Indians (22-2), who avenged a 1-0 loss to Franklin Regional in the WPIAL title game, will play Strath Haven (16-6-2), the District 1 champion, in the title game at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium.
Franklin Regional, like the stadium lights that went out minutes after the game ended, is finished in a flash at 20-1-1.
“Once our kids get buzzing, as we like to say, we’re hard to beat,” Indians coach Kevin Amos said. “(Franklin Regional) is a great team. We had about the same number of shots on goal as we did last time against them, but this time, we made the most of them.”
The Indians played without starting goalkeeper Braden Wurst, who missed the first game of his career with a concussion. He had started every game since his freshman season.
Senior Gabe Haines, in turn, made his first career start in goal for West Allegheny. He had never played the position before.
“We told him he could only be the hero,” coach Amos said.
Haines was barely tested until the 57th minute when junior Connor Hudson came up with a scoring chance off a free kick. His header tied it 1-1.
“I really thought we were going to get another one,” Panthers coach Rand Hudson said. “When the game opened up, I thought it would favor us.”
The Indians struck about seven minutes into the second half when Fletcher Amos challenged a drawn-out Jeremy Lucas for the first goal the Panthers had allowed in 291 minutes of the postseason. It was just the sixth goal their defense had given up all season and first since a 5-1 win over Thomas Jefferson in the WPIAL semifinals.
He followed the score with a cartwheel and back-flip.
“My mom taught me that,” Fletcher said. “We wanted payback so bad, and we came in with some fire.”
West Allegheny controlled the pace and possession in the first half, resulting in more shots on goal. Panthers goalkeeper Jeremy Lucas made four saves in the opening 40 minutes.
“We went into the half 0-0 and had absorbed a lot of their pressure,” Rand Hudson said. “It was that high press again, which we saw before. There were some mistakes on our part.”
The game-winner saw Fletcher Amos get behind the Panthers’ back line. He took a long cross-pass from Nathan Dragisich and buried a shot with 4:02 to go for the go-ahead score.
Fletcher Amos received a yellow card in the 20th minute for apparently diving around the goal box. The Indians first thought they’d have a penalty kick.
Connor Hudson was yellow-carded with 13:04 left, but the Indians could not cash in on the opportunity.
Franklin Regional had its finest season, with 16 shutouts and just seven goals allowed.
“I told them, we just laid down the best season in Franklin Regional history,” coach Hudson said. “You should all be proud.”
The Indians last played for a state title in 2013.
Franklin Regional was seeking its first trip to the state final.
Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at
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