North Xtra: Sewickley celebrates its 'trifecta' season

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Before the season started, Sewickley Academy boys soccer coach Jim Boone talked to his team about breaking up the season into three segments.

Section play, WPIAL playoffs and state playoffs.

While taking a one-game-at-a-time mentality, the Panthers still had one goal in the back of their minds -- a state championship.

Sewickley Academy lost in the state title game last season. So this senior-laden team was eager to get one final shot.

And they did.

On Friday the Panthers closed out the third segment of their season just like they did the first two, with championships.

Sewickley Academy made it three-for-three this year with a section title, WPIAL title and finally a PIAA championship.

"From the beginning of the year we knew we had a chance of succeeding in all three categories," senior defender Keegan MacDougall said. "We took it step by step, but the state final was in the back of all of our minds."

Sewickley Academy (21-3) capped off its season and the careers of 12 seniors with a 4-2 win against Mountain View, the same team it lost to in the PIAA championship last season.

Along with being defending PIAA champions, Mountain View won the District 2 title this season and entered the championship game with a perfect 21-0 record and 35-game winning streak.

But it was Sewickley that played a near-perfect game in rallying from a 1-0 deficit 14 minutes into the game to win 4-2 behind two second-half goals from senior Anthony Stinson and goals from senior Connor Zierden and sophomore Matt Teitelbaum.

Sewickley Academy's top two scorers, senior J.P. Bowell (27 goals) and senior Steve Munn (15 assists) were man-marked by Mountain View. The fact that players such as Stinson, Zierden and Teitelbaum stepped up was hardly a surprise to anyone who followed the team this season.

"This has definitely been a team effort," Boone said.

Offensively, Sewickley Academy scored 27 goals in seven playoff games. The defense allowed only five in seven playoff games.

The team showed its versatility in the playoffs. When Teitelbaum, the team's starting sweeper, was hurt before the WPIAL finals, Boone moved senior Erik Dietrich back to the sweeper position. When Teitelbaum was cleared to play in the PIAA quarterfinals, Boone kept Dietrich at sweeper.

"If its not broke don't fix it," Boone said.

He moved Teitelbaum to outside midfield where he scored three goals in three state playoff games.

The 2013 Panthers certainly left their mark on a program that is no stranger to championships. The WPIAL title marked the sixth for the program and the state title was its third.

"The experience is once in a lifetime," Boone said. "We have been lucky enough to have been in twice in a lifetime, in back-to-back years. It has been a nice ride."

Boone kept the agenda on the trip to Hershey very similar to last season with one tweak. Just like last season the team arrived a day early on Thursday and had a team dinner. On Friday morning the team had breakfast and then went to see a movie just like last year. (The movie this year was "Thor").

But after starting off slow in the championship game last season, Boone decided to hold about a 45-minute practice after the movie.

"I think that kind of helped get their legs loosened up," Boone said.

The defense came up big repeatedly for the Panthers this season with sophomore goalie Jackson O'Neil playing behind a defense that featured Dietrich, MacDougal, senior Jack Matten, senior Grady Moyer and sophomore Geoffrey Schuchardt.

"They always say defense wins championships and those guys really stepped up," Boone said.

For the Panthers and their three-part season, that defense helped win three championships.

"Our seniors have been waiting for this moment," Boone said. "Winning section, winning WPIALs and winning states, it is very difficult in one year. I attribute that to working hard.

"I told the guys: 'Relish the moment, take it all in. There is nothing like this, not many people get to this point, make the best of it.'

"Three months of soccer is a long time -- you are tired, you are worn out. I am tired, I am worn out but enjoy it, these memories will last forever."

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