The Canon-McMillan boys soccer team was only the third-best team in Section 5-AAA during the regular season, but it proved to be the league's best in the WPIAL tournament.
After beating Section 5-AAA champion Peters Township in the Class AAA semifinals, the No. 13-seeded Big Macs upset section runner-up and defending WPIAL champion Upper St. Clair, 1-0, in the championship game Saturday night at Elizabeth Forward.
Canon-McMillan (18-4) went 0-4 against the No. 1 Indians (15-2-2) and No. 2 Panthers (18-2-1) in the regular season.
"We were tired of being their little brother," said sophomore Josh Kruczek, who had the only goal in the match. "We knew we could beat them."
But if it wasn't for the play of James Hathaway, the outcome may have been different.
The senior goalkeeper for the Big Macs had plenty of spectacular saves, none more so than his diving stop of Troye Kiernan's penalty kick eight minutes into the game, to help Canon-McMillan capture its first WPIAL title in boys soccer with the victory.
Almost 20 minutes later, the Big Macs capitalized on one of their few opportunities in the first half.
Nathan Jacobs took a free kick on the right side of the field 25 yards from the Upper St. Clair goal. He chipped the kick into the center of the penalty box, and goalkeeper Joe Conlon came up to punch the ball 15 yards down the center of the field. The ball deflected right to Kruczek, who rifled a shot over the outstretched arms of Conlon, who was still off his line, and into the back of the net.
"For a quick second, I was questioning myself on whether it was real or not," Kruczek said.
Quaker Valley's Adam Richert clinched the WPIAL Class AA boys soccer crown with a thrilling goal with just 4.2 seconds left in the second overtime to defeat Mars, 2-1.
With time ticking down, the No. 4 seed Quakers made one last rush down the field and moved the ball into the box, at which point Richert controlled ball, gained a small amount of space and lobbed a shot from about 12 yards away into the goal to avoid moving to a shootout.
"I saw the keeper moving to the right, so I tried to chip it to the left," said Richert, who was unaware that time was running down.
"I thought it was 42 [seconds], not 4.2," he said.
Quaker Valley and No. 2 seed Mars were evenly matched in regulation, but as the 1-1 tie moved deeper into overtime, the Quakers clearly began to gain the advantage. Just when a shootout seemed inevitable, they capitalized on their fifth scoring opportunity of the overtime period.
"I thought we were controlling things and getting good chances, but we just couldn't put one in," said Quaker Valley head coach Gene Klein. "It's a great lesson. You have to play to the end."
Mars took the lead in the 17th minute, when Matt White played a through-ball down the left side of the field to Spencer Posey, who beat his man to the ball and fired a left-footed shot to the far post.
Quaker Valley responded later in the half off of a free kick in the 36th minute. Dante Piccolo sent the ball into the box and it was headed in by Levi Bowers to tie the score.
Senior striker Austin Ridgley scored on a free kick with 6:44 left in the second overtime to lift No. 10-seeded Riverside to a 2-1 victory against No. 4 seed Greensburg Central Catholic in the WPIAL Class A championship Saturday night at Baldwin High School.
The win lifted the Panthers' record to 16-4-1. The Centurions now are 15-5-1. Both teams will be participating in the PIAA Class A tournament that begins Tuesday, along with Sewickley Academy, which won the Class A consolation by a 3-0 margin against Serra Catholic.
Riverside coach Ben Huth said the situation was a familiar one for Ridgley, who got the winning goal on a free kick that left him a slight angle to the Centurions' goal.
"Many times throughout the year he's had a lot of set plays on free kicks in scoring range," Huth said. "Either him or [striker] Anthony Meneice have been the ones taking those kicks."
Ridgley blasted a right-footed shot just above a wall of three Centurions that found the upper section of the net, just over the outstretched arms of Greensburg Central goalie David Kossol.
"We had a guy set up on the inside part of the wall, and Austin was supposed to shoot it right over his head," he said. "We wanted to screen the goalie a little, and it worked perfectly."