After a busy stretch covering the Riverhounds in their final week of the regular season (three games in seven days), and their playoff venture to the New York area to take on the Red Bulls II in the USL quarterfinal, I finally have some time to circle back to scholastic soccer scene here in Western PA.
But before I do, I wanted to mention that on Saturday as a few of us arrived at Red Bull Arena a little too early (we rode with the Steel Army who had to go find a local watering hole), we were notified that there was a High School soccer game going on inside.
Okay — not a problem. While I was curious, and would have loved to have gone in, I had to remain outside waiting for credentials for the next game. Much to our surprise we could hear roars from the crowd that sounded like it was a packed house. I thought maybe it was a recording or coming from the big screen/audio in the arena. After all, there’s no way that there could be a packed house for a HS soccer match? Then as the game ended, waves of fans dressed in their school colors were spilling out of the arena, cheerleaders for both sides emerged, kids with their faces painted, vendors selling t-shirts commemorating the game were stations outside the gate and hundreds spilled out onto the streets of Harrison.
Of course, I would learn that the teams playing, neighboring Harrison and Kearny High Schools, play a match once per year at Red Bull Arena since it opened in 2010. The rivalry has historic roots (they had played games as far back as the early part of the 20th Century!) as this particular part of Northern New Jersey has a long, and storied soccer tradition going back to the days when many (mostly) Scottish immigrants settled in the area to work in the industrial mills. Riverhounds media manager Ian Thomson (who is a Scot) proudly shared some of this with us later.
For someone like myself, who’s seen lots of high school soccer in our area, it was quite a sight to see an MLS soccer-only stadium have such a robust turnout for a high school soccer game. While we can point to the Pittsburgh area and many other pockets around the country for having gradual growth in soccer, it’s clear that Northern New Jersey (which has produced many great players that have made it to the US National teams), may be to soccer what Western PA is to high school football.
Maybe someday in the not-too-distant future Western PA will have those type of crowds for a HS soccer match. Yeah?
TALENTED ALLDERDICE BOYS AMONG THE UNDEFEATED, UNTIED
And with that, on to the High School scene in our area, as most teams have completed their first run through section play and among the teams that remain unbeaten in WPIAL include the Allderdice boys team.
Here’s my feature on Allderdice, Unbeaten Allderdice Chasing First Section Title As Members of the WPIAL.
The Dragons seemed to have adjusted to making the move from City League to WPIAL pretty smoothly now that they are in year number four since the move. I’ve seen the nucleus of this team over the years play, and they are a talented group. They did get their three most recent wins in section at home, but still, their run to start the season shows that they will be a team that could make a deep run into the WPIAL playoffs.
The Undefeated — and Untied
AAA – Allderdice, Canon-McMillan, Fox Chapel
AA – Mars
AA – Greensburg-Salem, Beaver Area, Greensburg Central Catholic,
AAA – Norwin, Canon-McMillan
AAA – Pine Richland, Fox Chapel
AA – Mt. Pleasant, Mars, South Fayette
A – New Brighton, Greensburg Central Catholic
Here are some games to watch this week:
Tuesday, Sept. 29
Bethel Park vs Central Catholic – while Alderdice sits atop Section 4-AAA, the two teams below them will battle for second place, and an opportunity to stay in the race for the Section title.
Wednesday, Sept. 30
Seneca Valley vs Pine Richland – Pine Richland holding on to the top spot in AAA-Section 2, but a Seneca Valley win can close the gap. PR won their first meeting 2-0.
Mars vs Highlands – Undefeated Mars will face their biggest test — and have to look to beat second place Highlands (6-1 in section 2-AA) that will go a long way toward deciding the section championship.
Thursday, Oct. 1
Canon-McMillan vs Upper St. Clair – two South traditional top teams will do battle. After a slow start, USC has reeled off three straight wins and could be the first team to knock off Canon-Mac this season. The Big Macs beat USC 2-0 in their first meeting.
Elizabeth Forward vs South Park – South Park took their first loss of the year last week to Thomas Jefferson. Now they see