WPIAL Boys Soccer 4A Final
Thursday, October 31 – 8 p.m. – Highmark Stadium
Mt. Lebanon (15-4-1) vs Canon McMillan (14-3-1)
It’s always tough to beat the same team three times in one season. That’s what Mt. Lebanon will attempt to do on Thursday, as they face section rival Canon-McMillan as we’ll be assured of a winner coming out of the South Hills in Class 4A for the first time since 2015.
Although they’ve had a resurgent season, under coach Bill Perz, an alum, and have won 10 WPIAL titles in its past, Mt. Lebanon’s not been to the finals since 2009 when they beat Upper St. Clair, 1-0. Canon-Mac have won a pair of WPIAL titles under the direction of head coach Larry Fingers in 2012, also beating Upper St. Clair, 1-0, and in 2015, beating Fox Chapel, 2-1, in OT.
Mt Lebanon won both of those previous meetings by scoring a combined seven goals against their section foes: – a 3-1 win on September 17 and a 4-3 win on October 8.
These teams know each other all too well.
Both are two of the deepest teams in the WPIAL with some very high-end talent. The dimensions of Highmark Stadium could potentially stymie key ingredients of each teams offensive success – the long throw-in. Each time has been extremely dangerous throughout the season on long-throws, but Highmark is wider than roughly 80% of the fields/stadiums used in the WPIAL Playoffs. Also, the weather forecast is calling for rain and wind, so it could further hinder the chances created by the long-throw for both teams. Each team will need to rely on run-of-play, organic goals.
Based on previous results, Mt Lebanon seemingly has the advantage heading into Thursday. The Blue Devils know how to beat Canon-McMillan, and have done it twice this season. However, both match-ups were closely contested and it is difficult to beat a team three times.
Both teams received a first round bye, Mt Lebanon as Section 2 winner and Canon-McMillan as the fourth place seed. Giuseppe Croce and Joey Fonaghy have both been on fire for their respective teams throughout their respective playoff runs, and each team has a very capable tandem in Croce/Simboro and Fonaghy/Civitate. Neither team has held their opponents scoreless this postseason, and the WPIAL Finals have a habit of tightening defense up as the stakes are obviously raised.
Both teams have qualified for the PIAA tournament, so they could potentially meet for a fourth time this season.
Players to Watch (click link on school name for full roster):
- Coach Bill Perz– Giuseppe Croce (Sr)
– Danny Simboro (Sr)
– Zach Nelles (Jr)
– Steven Vines (Jr)
– Brady Napolean (Jr)
– Mark Joseph (Sr)
- Coach Larry Fingers– Joey Fonaghy (Jr)
– Tom Samosky (Sr)
– Nino Civitate (Sr)
– Luke Gladden (Sr)
– Anderson Jones (Sr)
LAST YEAR’s BOYS 4A FINAL RECAP