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North Catholic breaks through in 2nd half to capture first-ever WPIAL soccer title


Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 2  Springdale 0 





After struggling to score despite a dominant first half, North Catholic kept knocking on the door, and knew they were on the precipice of capturing its first-ever WPIAL soccer championship.
Eventually, the Trojans would break through for two second half goals to earn a 2-0 victory over upstart Springdale to take the boys 1A crown at Highmark Stadium on Friday night

“All season — the guys have such high soccer IQ, that if things aren’t working well from the beginning, they figure out things as they go along,” Aaron Kelly, North Catholic’s first-year coach said. “This is the second time we’ve played Springdale in a game like this, as they did what they could to load up the box, and frustrate us.”

The Trojans, who fell short of capturing the WPIAL crown a season ago, losing to Sewickley Academy 1-0 in overtime, were ready to take the next step, but had to go through a challenge of playing a section rival for the third time this season.

The Dynamos loaded up the box — testing the patience of North Catholic.

“They’re a very disciplined team, and we knew they would try to do everything they could to slow us down,” Kelly said. “Eventually, we knew we could figure things out.”
In the second half, the Trojans would finally open things up — and take command of the match.
In the 55th minute, after earning a corner kick opportuntiy, Mike Drambel came flying through the center of box for the header to give Trojans the coveted lead, and it seemed to break the ice.
Then just eight minutes later, the super sophomore tandem, Bryce Kopchak and Joe Kearney, who’ve combined for more than 70 goals this season, delivered the back breaker to the Dynamos.
In a tight spot on the right endline, Kopchak  delivered a pass to Kearney who snuck behind Springdale’s goalkeeper Mike Zolnierczyk for the one-timer that gave the Trojans a commanding 2-0 lead.
Springdale’s best chance in the first half came from senior midfielder Zach Liberati who found some room to deliver a bending shot from 40 yards that almost tricked CWNC keeper Keaton Jennings in the 34th minute.
In a classification has been long dominated by the likes of Sewickley Academy and Seton-LaSalle in recent years, now it looks like there’s a new kid on the block.
With a young, talented team, and plenty of outstanding soccer players coming from the Northern suburban area they draw from, North Catholic’s boys (and girls) soccer programs are perhaps now going to be strong WPIAL title contenders for the years to come.

“It was a blessing to come here, and coach these kids, and be a part of this community,” Kelly said. “There’s a lot of good players sure that we have coming to our school, and even more important, they’re great kids.”

PLAYERS OF THE GAME: Bryce Kopchak and Joe Kearney

Even when the Trojans were struggling to put away chances, these two were doing a lot of dangerous things — causing all kinds of havoc. Eventually, they would hook-up, like they’ve done so many times the past few years. Something tells me that we’re going to see a lot more of these two in the coming years.



North Catholic – Mike Drambel, 55′
North Catholic – Joe Kearney, 63′

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).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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