WPIAL Boys Soccer Quarterfinal
FINAL: Shady Side Academy 1, Charleroi 0, 2OT
Once again, Shady Side Academy’s boys soccer team pulled off a dramatic win in the WPIAL playoffs, knocking off a fierce challenge from Section 3 champs Charleroi in a back-and-forth affair that went to extra time.
Shady Side found magic just as the second overtime period began, in the 97th minute of the match, as Joey Anania drilled the game-winner from 22 yards out to bring an impressive Charleroi season to a heartbreaking end, finishing 18-2 overall.
With the win, Shady Side advances to the Class 2A semifinals for the fifth straight season, as they seek to return to the WPIAL final for the fourth straight season.
The Shady Side victory sets up a fourth straight WPIAL playoff showdown with Quaker Valley, who defeated Freeport 7-0 on Wednesday. Shady Side have beaten Quaker Valley in the WPIAL finals the previous two years, while Quaker Valley won the WPIAL foes in 2016.
“Wouldn’t that be just about special,” Shady Side’s Head Coach Ed Ellsworth remarked, when learning of match-up with Quaker Valley once again. “We have here is a senior class that doesn’t know anything except get into the WPIAL semifinals. We’ve got two of the most storied programs in Western Pennsylvania.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
Both teams couldn’t solve each other for 80 minutes and needed to go to overtime, even though both sides had plenty of chances to score the elusive goal in regulation.
Shady Side, with only two senior starters, owned the majority of possession, but couldn’t capitalize on more than 30 set pieces throughout the match.
“We had possession when we wanted to. We kept the ball at midfield,” Ed Ellsworth, Shady Side’s Head Coach said. “That team fights. Honestly, games likes this, it helps, we are now 18-4 in playoff games. That’s a ton of playoff experience, and that carried us through.”
“Boys have stuck with it. They’ve been really successful. They work hard. It’s a special group. It’s greater than the sum of its parts. It’s been a fun year. A very different year.”
In the second half, while Shady Side owned much of the ball, Charleroi looked very dangerous in getting forward quickly every chance they could get after denying Shady Side advances.
“They were fighting, pushing and battling hard,” Ellworth said of Charleroi.
At the top of the Charleroi attack was one of its all-time leading scorers, Cullin Woytovich leading the charge, both in getting shots on frame, and setting up his teammates.
Sam Farner was up to the task too in creating chances on his end — pinging a header off the bar, then after making a few moves, from 28 yards, he sent a bullet just inside left post, but Charleroi’s goalkeeper Nate Goodwin was there to stop it.
As regulation came to a close, Charleroi had one more chance on the counter, as Woytovich went into playmaking mode, sneaking a nice diagonal thru ball to JD Fleming past SSA’s back line.
Under pressure and from a tough angle, Fleming managed to send a low shot across the goal box — that narrowly missed.
In overtime, Charleroi’s Jace Kepich, much like he did earlier in the second half, had an opportune moment and space from 30 yards out — and banged his shot off the bar halfway through the first overtime.
After that, Shady Side found more set piece opportunities, and eventually, early in the second overtime, Joey Anania made sure the match wouldn’t go any longer.
With yet another service played into the box, Farner managed to get control of the ball, then laid it off to Anania who had some room to shoot from about 25 yards.
“We practice that one all the time,” Anania said. “I was ready for it, he got it to me. That whole game, I thought we deserved to win. It built up into that kick. I was tired, we were out there for a hundred minutes.I knew we deserved it, so I put everything into the shot.”
POST-GAME WITH JOEY ANANIA