There were a lot of things to like about Saturday’s PIAA quarterfinal in which Seton-LaSalle outlasted Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 1-0, at North Allegheny.
It was a rematch that featured an upstart team, with only one senior, from a school (North Catholic) that has never seen its soccer program go this far — ever — against a school (Seton-LaSalle) that’s been a mainstay at the top of Boys 1A soccer for the good part of the past 10-15 years.
It also featured a pair of young coaches who both showed an impressive ability to get the most out of their teams, but also who each adjusted well tactically in the course of the 80 minute match, which Seton-LaSalle pulled out, despite quality goalkeeping and chances from both side, as Darryl Daniels‘ brilliant goal in the 55th minute was the difference.
After losing 3-1 to North Catholic in the WPIAL semifinal, Seton coach Ryan Kelly knew he had to create more scoring opportunities for Daniels, Tyler Stack and other players like Ryan Kendrick.
Here’s my post-game interview with Kelly, as he talks about Daniels’ ability to be a game-changer, the tactical adjustments he needed to make heading into the game and about moving on to the next round, as Seton-LaSalle will finally play long-time rivals Sewickley Academy…
North Catholic, despite playing a first half that head coach Jordan Wiegand said his team was “flat-footed” and were out of sorts, they also hung on keeping the game scoreless.
Wiegand also made some adjustments — as his players responded with a early second half surge that saw a number of quality scoring chances.
In the end, it was the goal by Daniels that proved to be the difference, and allowed Seton-LaSalle (21-2) to avenge one of only two losses on the season (the other was to WPIAL Class 3A champs Chartiers Valley).
I also had a chance to catch up with Daniels, a junior who’s scored 41 goals this season, after the game as well.
It’s hard to believe, as Seton-LaSalle and Sewickley Academy, who once upon a time were section rivals, and have been perennial title contenders in Boys Single-A (now 1A) WPIAL/PIAA for the good part of the past decade and a half, have not faced each other in a playoff game since 2012.
That will change on Tuesday night (at site/time TBD) — and the two teams will square off with a trip to Hershey and the State Finals on the line.