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Avonworth perseveres to win first-ever WPIAL soccer title

WPIAL Boys Soccer 1A Final – Thurs. Nov. 1, 2018    #JN8

Avonworth 2, Greensburg Central Catholic 2 (Avonworth wins 6-5 on penalty kicks)


Avonworth boys soccer program finally made it to the top of the WPIAL on Thursday, winning a match that was eventually decided on penalty kicks.

The Antelopes had to persevere through a tough battle with Greensburg Central Catholic, who battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the match in dying seconds of regulation.


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Avonworth and Greensburg Central Catholic started the proceedings off with a bang. A game that would see a 2-0 lead disappear and lead to the late time drama and heroics. 

It was a classic back-and-forth match, and one that those involved will remember for a long time.

Early on Greensburg Central Catholic was creating chances but nothing was really getting put on frame.

Avonworth would have a chance early but would find the hands of GCC’s goal keeper Patrick Brewer. With 16 minutes into the half Sam Guzzo hit a shot that found the right post, the left post and then into the back of the net to give Avonworth the 1-0 lead.

Avonworth would get defensive minded as they started dropping eight players behind the ball and continued to man-mark GCC’s dynamic leading scorer and Pitt recruit Luke Mort with Johnathon Nicolaus.

Greensburg Central continued to apply pressure but could not find the back of the net.

Avonworth was playing patiently and looking for opportunities when they showed their self. Eventually one would come and a ball delivered into the box found the top of a GCC’s defenders head and end up into the back of the net for an own goal. 

“I really wish we could have had a better start,” Greensburg Central Catholic coach said.

Avonworth’s 2-0 lead would hold up at the half.

“Quite frankly, I didn’t think we were playing our best at that point,” Tom Angell, Avonworth’s head coach said. “It was a good position to be in at that point.”

With the challenge of being down two goals to start the second half, GCC head coach Tyler Solis made an adjustment to go with three defenders in the back and add an extra attacker up top.

The decision would pay off quickly,

In the 47th minute, Nate Ward would bring the lead to one with his first goal of the night.

Greensburg Central Catholic continued to apply pressure but Avonworth held firm in the back by dropping nine players back to defend.

GCC kept pushing for opportunities through much of the second half.

One would come with just two minutes left as a ball served across the face of the goal to GCC’s Ryan Reitler with no keeper in sight somehow he was unable to put the ball in the net and it looked as if GCC’s golden moment may have come and gone.

With the clock winding down under 30 seconds, one last ball was played towards Avonworth’s goal box. Greensburg Central Catholic’s Ward, an Avonworth defender and goal keeper Timothy Stewart converged on the ball.

Somehow, Ward came out of the collision with ball on his foot — and delivered a shot to back of the net for a 2-2 tie with only 22 seconds left in regulation.

“What I saw was our keeper getting to the ball first,” Angell said. “Then the ball was in the back of the net. We thought we had this won. The way this ended (in regulation), it made it more uncomfortable — and tougher for us.”

“We were down 2-0 at the half. We didn’t want to be there, but we went out and scored two goals on the number one team in the WPIAL,” Solis said.

Early in the first overtime, a save made by Timothy Stewart , it was apparent he had lasting effects from the collision at the end of regulation as he held his side in pain.

Avonworth would make the substitution to Luke Wagner to see if he could help bring home the win. Wagner would face some pressure in both overtime periods coming up with 4 big saves which would leave the game to be decided in Penalty Kicks.  

“We really continued to put pressure on them. If there was five more seconds left in overtime, we could have scored a goal,” Solis added.

The first five penalty takers would score for each side pushing the shootout to the sixth round, when Avonworth’s Connor Whalen came up and finished his PK. 

“I always like to start off the penalty kick round if we can, so we can put the pressure on them,” Angell said.

Sure enough, the pressure would be on Greensburg Central’s Ethan Boyle to keep the shootout going against Avonworth’s Luke Wagner, who got thrown into the match in overtime as the back-up keeper for Stewart who was injured.

Wagner came through. And the Antelopes clinched its first-ever WPIAL Class A Championship.


“We were always watching these games from afar, we’ve never had this opportunity until recently as a program, so this win is very special,” Angell, who’s in his 13th season coaching at Avonworth.





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