Quaker Valley scored early, and late, with goals coming from Will Dunda and Fritz Reiter, while controlling much of the play when they needed to en route to a 2-0 win against perennial playoff foe Shady Side Academy at Wright Field at North Allegheny High School on Saturday.
With the win, Quaker Valley (17-2) advances to its fourth straight WPIAL Class 2A final at Highmark Stadium. The Quakers will face Deer Lakes, who advanced by beating South Park, 3-0. Shady Side will now play South Park in PIAA play-in game on Wednesday.
ED THOMPSON’s PHOTO GALLERY
HOW IT HAPPENED
As far as script playing out in a playoff match between Quaker Valley and Shady Side Academy, things started off pretty much the way most of the recent playoff history has between these two schools.
Shady Side made the first advances into its final third, but long distance shot from Wednesday night’s hero, Joey Anania was easily gathered by Quaker’s keeper Zach Buhr.
The Quakers countered quickly, in the build-up, Will Dunda took a touch on the far right edge of the box — with two Shady Side defenders closing in — sent a shot toward the near post area. Shady Side’s staring keeper Zach Conti couldn’t close off the room between him and the post quick enough as he struggled to reach for the slick ball, Reiter’s shot found its way through for the 1-0 lead.
“It was good to get the goal early,” Andrew Marshall, Quaker Valley’s head coach said. “At the end of the day, it’s about what happens next. The boys did well, and improved their defending as the game played out. We didn’t make any bad decisions.”
Prior to that goal, Conti had only surrendered one goal all season.
“He’s come up with some many big saves and played well for us the past few years. He was huge in the Final last year,” Ed Ellsworth, Shady Side’s Head Coach said.
Anania generated Shady Side’s only shot attempts on frame in the first half — each from long distance, including a free kick right on target from about 40 yards in the 13th minute which was saved by Buhr.
For much of the first half, Quaker Valley wasn’t able to get another shot on frame until Keller Chamovitz fired a shot from the top of the box just inside left post that Conti knocked down, but couldn’t secure, as the ball went out past the end line.
“I thought the match was pretty even for much of the first half, and we certain had some of the better play,” Ed Ellsworth, Shady Side’s Head Coach said.
For much of the first half, and into the second 40 minutes, Shady Side continued to keep the ball, but for all of its possession, they were struggling to create dangerous shot attempts on frame.
Quaker Valley started to keep it on the ground a bit more in the second half, as they started to be a bit more patient pinging it around box.
Fritz Reiter had a pair of shots in the 52nd and 58th minutes, forcing Shady Side’s second half keeper, Bruce David, to make a couple of saves including a close range attempt on a nice build-up on the second sequence.
“They were the better team in the second half,” Ellsworth acknowledged.
Even with Quaker controlling the play into the final moments of the match, Shady Side created a few set piece opportunities in the final five minutes — a corner kick and a long throw to generate a last ditch effort to get another late equalizer.
“You can’t help but think about the past, a little bit,” Ellsworth said, as his players mounted a last ditch effort get an equalizing goal in the late moments for the third straight time against Quaker Valley.
In the 79th minute, the Indians’ efforts came to a climax as ball played high into the box resulted in a hard collision between Zach Conti, who was now in the match as a striker, and QV’s keeper, Buhr.
It took the officials a few minute to discuss what the final ruling would be — with one potential option of ruling for a penalty in Shady Side’s favor. Ultimately Quaker Valley had a goal kick awarded.
Shortly after that — Fritz Reiter caught the Indians retreating on the counter, after getting a nice pass from Rowan Kriebel — he moved into the box uncontested, and beat David to give the Quakers a commanding 2-0 lead with one minute left in the contest.
From there, the Quakers closed out the match to finally defeat the Indians in the WPIAL playoffs.
Marshall wasn’t thinking much about the past, but did quickly acknowledge that he was glad to finally beat Shady Side.
“Yeah, it is, and there’s probably some history with the boys,” Marshall said. “But, things change so much year-to-year, it’s hard to really compare. We’re looking forward to improving, and getting ready for our next opponent”
POST-GAME INTERVIEW: DOM AND FRITZ REITER