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Preview: Taking a closer look at WPIAL Boys Class 3A quarterfinals

File photo courtesy of Jared Todhunter

Preview: Taking a closer look at WPIAL Boys Class 3A quarterfinals

We’ve reached the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL boys soccer playoffs.

Ahead of Wednesday’s matches in Class 3A, here’s a quick look at the match-ups, which include the defending two-time WPIAL champions facing Indiana, while the remainder of the matches will feature teams from the same sections facing each other for the third time this year, including four teams from Section 2.

QUARTERFINAL ROUND (Wednesday, October 28)

all matches scheduled to kickoff at 6:30 p.m. 

3 West Allegheny vs 6 Moon 

For the third time this year (get used to us repeating this in this post) we’ll get a section rematch. West A. won both previous meetings (3-1 & 1-0). Each time they met, they were close, hard-fought affairs between two schools that know each other pretty well.  West Allegheny are no strangers to this stage and beyond — having played in three straight WPIAL finals — and losing each time — but earning a PIAA title in 2018. This year’s West Allegheny group gets contributions from all classes — with just two senior starters: Connor Blazer (forward) and Evan Kosenina (center back)   Moon’s only other loss is to South Fayette, who pulled off the win against 4th seeded Plum on Saturday.

How they got here: 

West A beat Gateway 6-2; Moon defeated Thomas Jefferson 3-0

2 Franklin Regional vs 7 Indiana

This is the only first-time match of the season in the 3A quarterfinals. Other than one loss to Plum and a non-section 2-0 defeat against Class 4A Seneca Valley last week, Franklin Regional doesn’t have any other blemishes against WPIAL competition in the past three years. They’re starting to get things into gear for another significant playoff run. Now, they’ll face the one of the three teams remaining from Section 1.  Indiana played top-seeded Mars tough both times this year, including a 2-1 defeat in their last meeting.

 

How they got here: 

Franklin Regional beat Knoch, 7-0; Indiana edged Belle Vernon in a penalty kick shootout (1-1, 8-7)

13 South Fayette vs 12 Montour

Section 2 went a perfect 4-0 in the first round on Saturday with both of these teams showing that they’re battle tested from the rigors of tough section play. While they both scored upsets in the first round based on seeding, very few folks who watched these teams play this year were surprised by the results. South Fayette has attacking talent, can possess well and have a good balance of experience, including Chad Eldridge, who scored the game-winner in overtime at Plum on Saturday.  Led by its new coach and former Pittsburgh Riverhound, Stephen Okai, Montour (the 2017 WPIAL Champs) proved they can play with anyone at this level, especially when handing West Allegheny its only loss this season.

“Every time you play them, we know it’s going to be competitive,” Chad Eldridge said when talking about facing off against neighboring rivals. “It’s always a close game, we respect each other — an their defense is really good.”

These teams know each other very well as this should be another tight, tense affair. In the first two matches, Montour held the upper hand by winning 1-0 in their return match on October 6 after the teams played to a 1-1 draw in September.

“They have a different brand of defending,” Rob Eldridge, South Fayette’s coach, said of Montour. “They’ll let you play in front, but trying to get in, behind them, it’s very difficult. If you’re trying to get through the channels, it’s almost impossible to get through. When we played them to 1-1 draw, Chad scored from 23 yards because there was nothing in front of him.”

How they got here: 

South Fayette defeated Plum, 2-1, in overtime. Montour won a long penalty kick shootout vs Trinity.

8 Hampton at 1 Mars

Two Northern suburban section 1 rivals who’ve often faced each other in years past in the playoffs. Mars remains unbeaten (15-0, 12-0 overall) while Hampton’s only losses against 3A competition are to the Fighting Planets (they also lost to 4A North Allegheny & Pine-Richland in non-section matches.  For Mars, it all starts with a solid, organized unit that’s very tough to score upon. In 15 matches, they’ve only surrendered four goals, one of them to Hampton.

The Talbots played Mars tough in both losses, particularly in a 2-1 decision on October 14.

How they got here:

Mars beat Laurel Highlands 5-1, while Hampton beat Kiski, 3-1 in the first round.

SEMIFINAL ROUND (Monday, November 2)

  • West A/Moon winner vs Franklin Regional/Indiana winner
  • South Fayette/Montour winner vs Hampton/Mars winner

CLASS 3A BOYS FINAL (Thursday, November 5, 8 p.m.) 

  • Semifinal winners

FIRST ROUND (Saturday, October 24)

Final scores 

Mars 5, Laurel Highlands 0

Indiana 1, Belle Vernon 1 (Indiana advances on PKs 4-3)

Hampton 3, Kiski 1

Franklin Regional 7, Knoch 0

West Allegheny 6, Gateway 2

South Fayette 2, Plum 1, OT

Lion-Sized Upset: Eldridge’s golden goal lifts South Fayette to overtime win at Plum

Moon 3, Thomas Jefferson 0

Montour 2, Trinity 2 (Montour wins 8-7 on PKs)

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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