Duku’s overtime winner sends Springdale boys into WPIAL semifinals
Springdale junior Ephrain Duku picked a good time to score his first overtime goal.
With 6 minutes, 44 seconds left in the second overtime, Duku blasted a shot past Sewickley Academy goalkeeper Nick Wilson to give the Dynamos a 1-0 victory in a WPIAL Class A quarterfinals Thursday at Mars Athletic Complex.
No. 5-seeded Springdale (15-2-1) will now play No. 1 Avonworth in the semifinal round Monday at a site and time to be determined.
“It feels like a dream,” Duku said moments after the match’s sudden ending. “My teammate, Mike Mitchell, is an incredible player. He passed me the ball, and I took the touch and whatever corner I saw, I shot at it. I couldn’t believe it.”
“I told Ephrain before the second overtime, you have to control it and put the ball in the goal,” Dynamos coach Cesareo Sanchez said. “And that’s what he did.”
No. 5 Sewickley concluded its season at 13-5.
It became evident early on that scoring would be at a premium.
“In regular time, I told the guys whoever scores the first goal is going to win,” Sanchez said. “You can see early in the play that it was going to be a defensive game.”
Again, Springdale goalkeeper Mike Zolnierczyk was like a stone wall. The senior made two stops from close range in overtime to keep the contest going. On other occasions, the Dynamos defense cleared the ball from the scoring area.
“I knew it was going to be a close game,” Panthers coach Nate Richter said. “Their goalie is phenomenal. He’s all-state, he’s all-world for a reason. Credit to them; they plugged away and got the winner in overtime.”
Springdale had the better of play in the first half with five shots on goal. Liam Dale set up from just outside the goal box, but Alex Gordon of Sewickley came out of nowhere to bat the ball away.
The Panthers finally got a shot on goal 20 minutes into the first half.
The Dynamos had another opportunity late in the first half after a corner kick when Wilson moved away from the net for a stop. Springdale maintained possession, but defender Jack Duggan stood in goal and stopped Michael Krason to keep the match scoreless.
The Panthers got the better of play in second half as Richter made some adjustments.
“We just tweaked things a little bit with our chances,” Richter said. “We had a lot of chances, but that goalie’s amazing. Two of those saves he made were some of the best saves I’ve ever seen in my life.”
It was Zolnierczyk’s 14th shutout of the season.
Dale and Hunter Schussmann were injured, but Sanchez indicated the injuries don’t appear to be serious.
If Springdale wins Monday, the Dynamos will move on to the finals for the second straight season next weekend at Highmark Stadium.
A Springdale loss would put the Dynamos in a consolation match Thursday to decide a berth in the PIAA tournament.