Springdale rebounds from title-game loss to earn PIAA tournament win
SOMERSET — Springdale believed it let some scoring chances slip away in the first half of its PIAA playoff opener against Windber on Tuesday night.
The Dynamos made sure not to waste their opportunities in the second half.
Jared Demore scored a pair of goals after halftime, leading Springdale to a 2-0 victory over Windber in a PIAA Class A first-round game at Somerset Area High School.
“The first half, we had the opportunities — I couldn’t put them in personally,” said Demore, a senior. “We had some nice shots. We knew we were the better team, we just couldn’t finish. Once the second half came, our possession was up.
“We got that halftime pep talk speech, so our possession was up, our chances were greater and I put two of them in.”
Springdale, which bounced back from a WPIAL championship game loss to Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, will play District 9 champion Brockway in the PIAA quarterfinals Saturday at a time and site to be determined.
Making their first PIAA playoff appearance since 2009, the Dynamos (16-5-1) won Tuesday with the same formula as their underdog run through the WPIAL playoffs: a strong defensive effort from their backs and keeper Mike Zolnierczyk, and crucial work from their offensive playmakers.
“After that loss, we needed to get back to our game, shake it off,” senior Zach Liberati said. “That’s what good teams do; they shake off games like that and get back to winning ways.”
Still, Demore said the team played “a little lax” in the scoreless first half, leading coach Cesareo Sanchez to get the Dynamos fired up during the 10-minute break.
“The first half was their game: passing, controlling; we were a little bit (behind),” Sanchez said. “The field didn’t help. It’s very short, very narrow. Second half, we adjusted a few things, we played our game and that came to two goals.”
Despite the feeling, Springdale did have some strong chances during the first half.
Windber goalkeeper Jonathan Guaetta stopped a point-blank shot by Justin McClafferty with the game less than four minutes old, and later snared a free kick off the foot of Liberati.
Windber (14-6-1), coming off its second consecutive District 5 title, didn’t put a shot on goal in the first half. The Ramblers did have a prime opportunity when Devan Marhefka missed wide on an open net on a scramble after a corner kick, and they controlled possession for the latter portions of the half but couldn’t score.
“We created opportunities in the first half. We were real close to scoring in the first half,” Windber coach Brett Hoffman said. “We created a lot of corner kick opportunities to give us a chance to score, and tonight we just couldn’t find the frame on those opportunities.”
Springdale broke the scoreless tie after a great individual effort from Nick Taliani, who showed strong eye-foot coordination as he dribbled through the Windber defense before finding Demore, who drilled a low shot past Guaetta with 23 minutes, 12 seconds left in the game.
Demore’s second goal came off a long through ball from McClafferty with 9:47 remaining, allowing Springdale to breathe easy down the stretch.
“Our passing was great,” Demore said. “I give all the credit to them. I just had to put a foot on the ball.
“Once we were up 1-0, I knew we could hold it. Just all the work finally paid off. We could play relaxed. We got back to our game.”
Zolnierczyk made four saves to finish off Springdale’s 12th shutout of the season.
“It’s just a group of kids that have been playing together our whole lives,” Liberati said. “We know each other really well, and we know how to play and how to beat teams.”