Last Wednesday evening, when Will Kunzmann scored a golden goal just a little more than a minute into overtime on a long indirect free kick by Ben Esser, North Catholic boys soccer program had plenty of reason to be feeling good.
After all, the Trojans handed its section rival and defending Boys Class 2A WPIAL and PIAA champion Quaker Valley its first loss in section play in more than three years and first loss of the 2020 season, with an exciting 3-2 win in overtime that put them in the drivers seat to clinch a section title and a high seed in the upcoming playoffs.
By Friday, both teams, which were sporting identical 11-1-1 records, were dealt significant setbacks, as they learned of COVID-19 positive cases infiltrating their teams and schools.
On the eve of the WPIAL playoff bracket announcements, the two schools, which were expected to be legitimate Boys Class 2A title contenders, now have its playoff hopes dangling in jeopardy.
After cancelling its scheduled football game on Friday night, Quaker Valley School District announced Saturday that due to nine COVID-19 cases in the district, all students would move to remote learning through October 30, — with all sports and extracurricular activities shut down until November 2.
In all likelihood, Quaker Valley’s boys soccer season is over, although head coach J.J. Veshio told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that their Athletic Director is trying to work something out with the WPIAL and their school district for possible scenarios which would allow them to play.
North Catholic, on the other hand, which has shut down in-school learning through October 27 and put its soccer team in quarantine for 14 days. learned it was possibly exposed to COVID-19 in a match last week. North Catholic athletic director Brian Miller told the Post-Gazette that the school plans to use its JV team, which is not in quarantine, for a first-round game.
“We appreciate the open lines of communication between schools during this pandemic, as we are all working hard to keep students and staff safe. Transparency is paramount,” North Catholic assistant principal John Benzing said in the statement.
The school advised the team and school families of the situation and reported that no members of the soccer team have felt ill. Also, according to guidance from the Allegheny County Health Department, this wasn’t cause for a building closure and the students involved with the team will continue their classes online.
“I am confident in the success of our remote synchronous learning program that these students will continue to be educated while at home and staying safe,” North Catholic principal Michael Palcsey said in a statement. “We hope to see them back on the field soon.”
When the WPIAL soccer committee meets Wednesday morning to decide playoff pairings and seedings, they’ve required that schools must notify the committee by then if they can’t participate.
Preliminary-round playoff games are scheduled to start Saturday, with first-round games Oct. 26-27.
For more on the WPIAL boys and girls soccer playoffs, check out our WPIAL Notebook posted yesterday.
WPIAL Notebook: No Highmark Stadium for this year’s finals; playoff guidelines laid out