North/South Xtra: Shady Side, Mt. Lebanon challenge for WPIAL gold

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With less than 30 seconds remaining in Monday's WPIAL Division I semifinal against North Allegheny, it looked as if defending champion Mt. Lebanon would be sitting at home during Friday night's title game.

The Blue Devils, who trailed 9-6 with fewer than four minutes to play, were still down 9-8 as the clock went under the half-minute mark in the fourth quarter.

But Sam White, who scored the winning goal in last season's district title victory against the Tigers, played hero again.

White scored with 27 seconds left in regulation, then netted the winner in the second overtime to give the Blue Devils a chance to defend their title at 8 p.m. Friday against Shady Side Academy at Highmark Stadium.

"We just knew we could get it done," Mt. Lebanon coach Mike Ermer said. "Our guys took care of business. They dug deep and found another level."

White scored three goals Monday and leads a balanced offensive attack for Mt. Lebanon, which has won three of the past five WPIAL Division 1 championships.

The Blue Devils have many other capable scorers, including Dan Lee, Brian Ward and Brian Kelly. Kelly is also the team's top assist man, and he added five helpers and a goal in the win against North Allegheny Monday.

But Mt. Lebanon's attack will have its work cut out for it against Shady Side Academy goaltender Tucker Gillman. The Indians senior and co-captain, who will play at Georgetown next season, had 12 saves in Shady Side's 9-6 semifinal victory against Upper St. Clair Monday.

"He's Mr. Consistency," Shady Side Academy coach Michael Williams said. "Even when he has mediocre games, which are few and far between, he works his butt off to make sure it doesn't happen again."

While Gillman helps keep the ball out of the net, the Indians other captain often finds the back of the net.

Dan Marous has scored more than 50 goals this season, including four in the win against the Panthers.

Marous, who will attend the University of Notre Dame with plans to try to walk on the nationally ranked Fightin' Irish lacrosse squad, is also used to leading.

A four-sport athlete, he has also captained Shady Side Academy's football, soccer and basketball teams.

"He's the type of kid who leads by example," Williams said. "He goes out and shows everyone how to play, and it's contagious."

Mt. Lebanon was able to hold the Marous-led offense in check in the team's regular-season meeting in April, a 5-4 victory for the Blue Devils.

Both coaches expect a similar game Friday night.

"I expect another dogfight," Ermer said. "... It's going to be a battle and should be a lot of fun. [Shady Side Academy] is well-coached and disciplined and I'm looking forward to it.

"Whoever comes out on top will have earned it."

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