7:29 p.m. EDT – Just arrived at Highmark Stadium and got pink-banded. Which can only mean one thing: It’s WPIAL Soccer Championships time!
I’ll be reporting on the Boys’ Class 1A Final between Charleroi, the No. 1 seed, and Bentworth, the No. 7 seed.Which of these 1A-Sec. 2 rivals will win the “Worsh Cahnty Derby,” and with it, their first ever WPIAL soccer title?
Follow PSN on Twitter/X @pghsoccernow, follow me on Threads @mpopchock, and watch this space, as well, for updates!
The Cougars, led by WPSCA Class 1A Coach of the Year Jon Ducoli, enter tonight with a 19-0 overall record, having won Section 2 with a perfect 10-0 mark. Last year, Charleroi made a Cinderella run to the Boys 1A Final, but were edged by reigning champion Winchester Thurston, 3-2.
The Bearcats, led by head coach Nick Malarbi, enter tonight with a 17-2 overall record, having finished 8-2 in Section 2. Their only two losses were to the Cougars.
Bentworth prevailed 2-1 in extra time over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, then surprised Sewickley Academy, 5-0, then upended Burrell, 2-1, in the second half of extra time to punch their championship ticket.
Charleroi defeated Beaver County Christian, 2-1, held serve against Eden Christian Academy, 3-1, then outlasted Seton-LaSalle on a penalty kick in extra time, 1-0, for the right to return to Highmark for a second bite at the apple.
D. Colbert, Davenport, Lusk, McMurray, Moessner, Pysh, Reynolds, Scott, R. Colbert, Hays (GK), Vipperman.
N. Mazon (GK), Chambers, Barcus, Patterson, Hartley, Klinger, Burkholder, Large, McIntyre, L. Mazon.
1′ – The #WPIALSoccer Boys 1A Final is underway, with the Cougars getting the first touch!
5′ – Klinger, on the left wing, with a deep cross for Landon Barcus, but he airmails his shot from the top of the 6-yard box. Goal kick to the Bearcats.
CC 0-0 BB
7′ – Moessner leads a ball down the right wing for Ryan Colbert, who forces a save by Nate Mazon, coming well off his line to cut down the angle.
Moments later, Large is denied by Hays from point blank, then goes wide on a subsequent attempt from close range.
11′ – GOAL CHARLEROI! PENALTY KICK!
Arlo McIntyre was grabbed from behind by a Bearcat defender in the box, and after further review, officials stuck with the penalty call.
McIntyre goes low to the left, underneath a diving Hays.
14′ – Easy to see why Bryce Large of Charleroi was the WPSCA Class 1A Player of the Year. He fires toward goal from an impossible angle on the right flank, and the ball just barely lands atop the net, over Hays’ outstretched hand at the near post.
23′ – Patterson tries to pull a Rapinoe/Olympico, but his corner kick from the flag to the right of Hays skips harmlessly along the crossbar for a Bentworth goal kick.
27′ – Now business is picking up at both ends. Moessner gets behind the Cougars’ back line and redirects a short cross with his head, right on the doorstep. But Nate Mazon is in the right place at the right time, making the save look easy.
30′ – Charleroi captain Jake Chambers has been everywhere defensively in the first half. This time, he shields Moessner from a ball deep on the left wing to earn a goal kick for his colleague Mazon.
Moments later, McMurray from the opposite corner, forces a diving save by Mazon, which he corrals for a goal kick.
CC 1-0 BB
34′ – Large, set up by Barcus on his right, drills a shot toward the upper 90, from just above the arc, that Hays has to punch away. Bearcats defend the resulting corner kick uneventfully.
CC 1-0 BB
37′ – GOAL CHARLEROI!
Barcus connects with Large, who takes down his defender while fighting for possession deep inside the box. Large crosses for a wide-open Dylan Klinger, who knocks it from the middle of the box into the vacant net.
CC 2-0 BB
HALFTIME. Charleroi 2-0 Bentworth.
Goals: McIntyre 11′ (PK), Klinger 37′.
The Cougars scored twice in each regular-season meeting with the Bearcats, which was enough for a pair of victories. Will it be enough for their first-ever WPIAL crown?
41′ – The Bearcats have 40 minutes to find–at least–two goals.
Can Nate Mazon keep his poise in goal, and continue to get stellar support from his defense?
43′ – Vipperman earns a corner kick at the flag to the left of Mazon. An inswinging ball ping-pongs off several legs on both sides, and somehow, the turtling keeper keeps that ball off his line and hugs it tightly to preserve the two-goal advantage. Best chance of the night for the Bearcats.
CC 2-0 BB
49′ – Moessner has had his chances to contribute for Bentworth tonight. This time, he goes short to a wide-open Scott at the top of the box, but the latter puts way too much behind that ball, which sails over the bar.
CC 2-0 BB
55′ – Charleroi nearly landed the knockout blow. McIntyre blasts a ball from 12 yards dead center that compels Hays to dive to his right to punch it aside. The two give each other an attaboy after a collision at the side of goal.
58′ – McMurray positions himself right in the middle of the box to redirect a bounding ball with his head. Mazon backpedals and gets just enough altitude to make the two-handed save.
CC 2-0 BB
61′ – Now McMurray leads a nice ball down the right blank for Ryan Colbert. Once again, Mazon wins the footrace before the oncoming Bearcat can put it on target.
CC 2-0 BB
The Bearcats pull one back thanks to a nice back-heeled pass from John Scott to Ryan Moessner, who slots the ball inside the far post from the left wing, 12 yards away.
66′ – A yellow card has been issued to Hartley of Charleroi for a reckless challenge. Furthermore, Cougar fans are upset their boys weren’t awarded a corner kick when Hays seemed to drag the ball across the back line on his own volition.
76′ – GOAL! BENTWORTH ARE LEVEL!
Andrew Vipperman with a header at the near post on a perfect cross from Ryan Colbert on the left flank.
END OF REGULATION. Charleroi 2-2 Bentworth.
Large takes a shot from 35 yards that is calmly caught by Hays before time runs out. We’re going to 15 minutes of extra time–and 15 more, if necessary–in the Boys 1A Final!
84′ – Oh my goodness…Moessner had the game at his toe, and he chipped it over the bar after Ryan Colbert forced a close-range save by Mazon on the right wing. Huge break for the Cougars.
CC 2-2 BB
87′ – Moessner, this time, with a rug-burner that forces Mazon to dive to his right to make the save. Bentworth with all the momentum in the first extra session.
CC 2-2 BB
92′ – GOAL BENTWORTH! THE BEARCATS HAVE WON THEIR FIRST WPIAL CHAMPIONSHIP!
Dillon Colbert makes a great run down the left wing. He chips the ball to Ryan Colbert, who sneaks behind the defense and blasts it into the far corner to cap the comeback.
CHARLEROI 2-3 BENTWORTH AET.
More to come from Highmark…