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PIAA Boys Soccer Semifinals Preview: 3 WPIAL Teams Look to Punch Tickets To Hershey


South Park defeated WPIAL foe Mars on Saturday to advance to the PIAA semifinals.

There are three WPIAL boys soccer teams remaining in the PIAA playoffs, Seneca Valley, South Park and Sewickley Academy, one in each of the three Classifications.
Despite each being ranked as top seeds in their classifications, none of these teams won the WPIAL’s, in fact, all three lost in before getting a chance to play at Highmark Stadium in the WPIAL final.  But now each will get a chance to punch a ticket to Hershey for the PIAA Championship games on Saturday.
Boys Class AAA
Seneca Valley (17-2-1, WPIAL Section 2 Champs) vs Springfield Delco (17-4-1)
Tuesday, Nov. 17, 6 p.m.
at Chambersburg
Apparently the road to the PIAA Class AAA Boys soccer final goes through Chambersburg.
Seneca Valley moved into the semifinals on Saturday by beating WPIAL Champs, Canon-McMillan, 1-0. Matt Saluga’s goal in the 70th minute was all Seneca Valley needed to secure the win Saturday at North Allegheny. Matthew Griffin assisted on the tally for the Raiders (17-2-1), who will play District 1’s Springfield Delco.
Nick Jannelli’s goal in the 51st minute was the difference as District 1’s Springfield Delco earned a PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal win in Chambersburg over Fox Chapel. The Foxes won their previous PIAA first round match in Chambersburg, beating Central York in penalties (2-2, 4-3).
If Springfield Delco can win, it will set up an all-District 1 (Suburban Philadelphia) PIAA Final, as the winner of the other semifinal between Central Bucks East and Conestoga, will be from District 1.
Springfield Delco is a solid team that will take advantage of counter attacking opportunities with talented forwards Janelli, Andrew Astrino and Michael Wallce. Both goals were scored off strong shots that Fox Chapel were unable to clear after first goalkeeper saves.
Seneca’s been one of the stronger defensive teams from the WPIAL, surrendering just 2 goals in their five WPIAL/PIAA playoff games.
Seneca Valley’s leading scorer during the regular season was Matt Saluga. He scored the game winner with 10:14 remaining in the game to lift Seneca Valley past Canon-McMillan, the team it lost to in the WPIAL semifinals. Griffin Matthew scored two goals in Seneca Valley’s 5-1 win over State College in the PIAA first round.
Winner will earn a spot in the PIAA Class AAA Championship at Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday at 6:30 p.m., and as previously mentioned take on the winner of the all-District 1 showdown between Central Bucks East and Conestoga.
Boys Class AA
South Park (20-2-1) vs Susquehannock (18-7)
Tuesday, Nov. 17, 6 p.m.
at Mansion Park Stadium, Altoona
South Park was eliminated by the District 3 third-place team last year when it lost 4-3 to Lancaster Mennonite. The Eagles defeated District 10 champion Harbor Creek. 4-1, in the PIAA first round. They also shut out WPIAL foe Mars, 2-0, in the PIAA quarterfinals. South Park won the Section 3-AA title outright. South Park has bounced back from a 2-1 loss to South Fayette in the WPIAL semifinals. South Park last won a state title in 2006.
The Warriors, from Northeast PA, will travel 150 miles to get to Altoona for this game.  They are a surprise team, finishing third in District 3, but have made a run to the Final Four of Class AA thanks to wins over Somerset (3-0) and then beating WPIAL Champs South Fayette, 2-0, in the quarterfinals in Altoona.
South Park junior goalie Ted Cecotti posted a clean sheet in the PIAA quarterfinals. Another junior, Dan Irwin, and senior Christian Payne scored in the win over Mars. It was the second consecutive game in which Payne and Irwin scored. They both scored in the 4-1 win against Harbor Creek in the PIAA first round.
Coaches: Brett Maxwell, Susquehannock; Jon Cantwell, South Park.
Winner earns a spot in the PIAA Class AA championship to play the winner of District 11 champion Northwestern Lehigh and District 4 champion Lewisburg, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium.
Boys Class A
Sewickley Academy (20-3, WPIAL Section 5-A Champs) vs Bishop McCort (16-5)
Tues. Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.
at Somerset
Sewickley will take on the team that knocked out WPIAL Class A Boys Champions Seton LaSalle on Saturday in a game that went to penalty kick shootout. Seton LaSalle, who lost to Sewickley earlier this season, outshot Bishop McCort 15-1 despite the loss.
The Panthers are back in the PIAA semifinals and are seeking a third consecutive trip to the PIAA finals. They fell to District 11 champion Moravian Academy, 4-0, in the PIAA final last year. This year Sewickley Academy blasted District 9 champion Karns City, 5-0, in the first round and also survived penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. The Panthers won their shootout, 4-3, against District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep.
Maybe the best nickname I’ve seen in some time — the  Crimson Crushers are the champions of District 6.
Bishop McCort shut out District 3 Lancaster Country Day, 2-0, in the first round and as mentioned above, knocked off WPIAL champion Seton-LaSalle, 2-1, in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. The Crimson Crushers won the shootout, 4-3, over the Rebels.
Something tells me that Sewickley Academy will look to be on the attack for much of this game, while the Crimson Crushers will look to find their spots in counter attacking, set pieces — and like their previous game, find a way to win it in a shootout.
Sewickley’s senior Jackson O’Neill is one of the top goalies in the state. He stopped two penalty kicks in the PIAA quarterfinal win. Matt Teitelbaum has been one of the top goal scorers in the WPIAL over the past three years. He had a hand in all five goals in Sewickley’s 5-0 win over Karns City. He scored three goals and assisted on two.
Coaches: Ron Spinelli, Bishop McCort; Jim Boone, Sewickley Academy
Winner earns a spot in the PIAA Class A championship to play the winner of District 3 runner-up Camp Hill and District 4 runner-up East Juniata at Hersheypark Stadium, Friday at 7:30 p.m.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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