Mountain View falls short in state soccer final
BY SHANE HENNIGAN
Times Shamrock Writer
Despite getting the important first goal of the game, Mountain View couldn’t seize the momentum against an aggressive Sewickley Academy squad.
The Panthers attack ultimately paid off and spelled doom for the Eagles.
Sewickley Academy erased a
one-goal halftime deficit by scoring four goals in the second half to defeat Mountain View, 4-2, in the PIAA Class A boys soccer state championship at Hersheypark Stadium.
Mountain View (17-1), which defeated Sewickley Academy, 1-0, in last year’s state championship game, saw its 35-game winning streak come to an end.
“It was a great game,” Mountain View coach Roger Thomas said. “Sewickley Academy is a powerful and
polished team. Essentially, a few mistakes is what hurt us in the end.”
In the 14th minute, the Eagles had their first free kick opportunity from 32 yards out. Colby Thomas stepped up and drilled a shot into the bottom left side of the net for his 49th goal of the season to give his team 1-0 lead.
The Panthers, however, were not rattled and kept their composure. Less than two
minutes after Thomas’ goal, Steve Munn fired a direct kick from 42 yards out on the near sideline. But senior goalkeeper Bobby Pfahl soared above the traffic in front of him and punched the ball away.
In the 22nd minute, Geoffrey Schuchardt’s shot from 25 yards out went far enough away from Pfahl’s outstretched arms. The ball hit the left goal post and bounced wide.
“They’re a good team,” Roger Thomas said. “We knew they were going to keep coming.”
Four minutes into the second h
alf, the Eagles appeared to get the huge momentum swing they were desperately searching for. Ed Bognatz’s direct kick deflected off a Panthers defender and over the head of goalkeeper Jackson O’Neill into the net. But Mountain View was whistled for offsides, and the goal was negated.
Sewickley Academy, like it was doing in the first half, kept attacking the Eagles’ zone. In the 48th minute, Jack Matten directed his 22-yard free kick to the near post, but Pfahl made yet another diving save.
But one minute later, the Panthers would finally get one past Pfahl. Connor Zierden crossed in a pass to the center of the box to Anthony Stinson, who knocked it in the bottom left of the goal to tie the game.
Stinson struck again in the 60th minute. Steve Munn headed the ball toward the goal from 10 yards out. Pfahl stopped the shot, but the ball deflected off the crossbar back to Stinson, who knocked it into the net to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead and the Eagles their first deficit of the season.
Sewickley Academy got another break just 30 seconds later when Thomas was issued a yellow card. With the Eagles’ best player forced to watch from the bench for the next five minutes, the Panthers took advantage, and two minutes later Zierden got into the scoring mix.
Deep in its own territory, Mountain View tried heading the ball away from its goal. But the ball bounced to Zierden, who was in front of the net, and he knocked it home to give Sewickley Academy a 3-1 lead, stunning Mountain View.
“It was a little bit unfortunate to be in that situation,” Colby Thomas said. “But our guys kept fighting. We never gave up.”
The Eagles would draw closer In the 68th minute. Thomas fought for possession of the ball with a Panthers defender. The ball was knocked away and bounced to midfielder Nick Jarrow, who lofted a shot from 20 yards out over O’Neill to cut the Panthers lead to 3-2.
Mountain View tried to get one more attack going to tie the game, but couldn’t penetrate the defense, and in the 77th minute, the Panthers sealed the deal.
A miscommunication by Pfahl and Aaron Freeman nearly led to an own goal.
But Pfahl dove and swatted the ball away toward the far sideline before it went into the net.
Stinson, however, got control of the ball and found a wide open Matt Teitelbaum at the top of the 18-yard box. Teitelbaum finished the play, blasting the shot into the back of the net to end the Eagles’ hopes for a second consecutive state championship.
“We didn’t win it all, but we still ended on a high note by getting (to Hershey),” Colby Thomas said. “It was still a great season for us.”
Penalty kicks send MV to championship
Throughout the two weeks of post-season play, Mountain View took time during each practice to work on penalty kicks just in case it found itself in that situation.
After 110 minutes of playing to a scoreless tie with District 1 champion New Hope-Solebury, on Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Eagles were in that situation and, and like they’ve done in each of the 34 games prior, rose to the occasion.
Holding a one-goal lead, Noah Pepper stepped up to the ball and buried his shot into the back of the net to give the Eagles a 1-0 (4-2 PKs) victory over the Lions in Tuesday’s (Nov. 12) thrilling PIAA Class A soccer semifinal at Northern Lehigh High School.
Mountain View (17-0) advanced to Friday’s state championship at Hershey- park Stadium at 7:30 p.m. and faced District 7 champion Sewickley Academy, which defeated District 5 champion North Star, 5-0.
The Eagles defeated Sewickley Academey, 1-0, in last year’s state final.
“I don’t think words can explain how this feels,” senior Colby Thomas said. “It’s really incredible – this team is incredible.”
Both teams had their chances in the first half. In the 30th minute, New Hope-Solebury’s Alex Lotier had an open look from the top of the 18-yard box and fired a shot. But goalkeeper Bobby Pfahl came up with a diving save and gave the crowd a preview of things to come from both goaltenders.
Perhaps the best chance either team had came in the 38th minute. Sprinting down midfield, Thomas took a pass and was able to beat his defender to set him up with a one-on-one with goalkeeper Lucas Ebeling.
From 15 yards out, Thomas got the shot he was looking for, but Ebeling came sprinting towards him and made a feet-first save to keep the game scoreless heading into halftime.
“My teammates gave me that great opportunity, and in that situation I usually bury those types of chances,” Thomas said. “I have to give credit to their keeper, though. He made a heckuva save.”
Thomas would get another opportunity in the 61st minute. In a play that looked nearly identical to the one 21 minutes prior, Thomas had another breakaway, but yet again, Ebeling made a feet-first save to stun the Eagles faithful and bring the Lions fans to their feet.
“He dove pretty early last time, so I thought I could get it past him this time,” Thomas said. “I was just looking for that back post, and he had it covered. It was really frustrating, but good job on his part.”
Four minutes after Thomas was denied, the Lions (13-5-2) had another chance. Riley Smith got by the Mountain View defense gave himself a look from the top of the box. Smith directed his shot towards the bottom right side of the net, but Pfahl made another diving save.
“Bobby’s play was as good as it gets,” Mountain View coach Roger Thomas said. “He’s come up so big for us in the past and tonight was another prime example. Those saves he made were incredible.”
In the second overtime, Ed Bognatz had a direct kick for the Eagles, but the ball went into the hands of Ebeling. That was the last legitimate threat either team had, sending the match into penalty kicks.
After New Hope-Solebury and Mountain View exchanged goals, Smith stepped up and blasted a shot toward the bottom left of the net. But Pfahl made yet another diving save to swing the odds in favor of the Eagles.
“Oh my goodness, that save got us so fired up,” Pepper said. “That was probably the most pumped I was the entire game.”
Zeb Cross then drilled his shot into the back of the net to give the Eagles a 2-1 advantage. Both teams would again exchange goals. The Lions’ Alan Smith then tried to tie the score at 3, but Pfahl read his shot perfectly and made the save to set the stage for Pepper.
“If I don’t come up big, we’re going home,” Pfahl said of the situation. “I knew what I had to do.”
With the ball 12 sitting yards away from the net, Pepper waited for the whistle to blow, and when it did, he beat Ebeling with a shot into the back left of the goal to send the Eagles back to Hershey.
“After Bobby made two incredible saves, there was no pressure. None,” Pepper said. “I just had to finish it.