Seton LaSalle boys shut out Springdale to earn PIAA playoff berth
Playing in the WPIAL consolation game three straight years has put Seton LaSalle boys soccer in a comfort zone.
The Rebels got goals from Anthony Newman in the first half and Gabe Rosario in the second half and let a stellar defense do the rest as Seton LaSalle defeated Springdale, 2-0, in the Class A consolation game Thursday night at North Allegheny High School.
The Rebels (18-4) have earned the WPIAL’s third PIAA tournament berth and will take on District 9 champion Brockway on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. Brockway defeated Karns City, 2-0, on Thursday night.
Springdale, a WPIAL finalist last season, concluded with a 15-4-1 mark.
“Three years in a row in the consolation game made us comfortable having ben here before,” Seton LaSalle coach Ryan Kelly said. “We were composed in the back, and we created a lot of chances.”
The Rebels attacked early with a pair of corner kicks from Ethan Gardner over the first five minutes of play. Seton LaSalle didn’t score then, but almost got a goal later in the half when the ball came off two Dynamos defenders. That forced Mike Zolnierczyk to make an alert save.
With 9:13 left in the first half, Newman booted one from 30 yards out that barely went over Zolnierczyk’s head for a 1-0 lead.
“We caught him off guard,” Ryan said. “You have to relish something like that. We know how good he is; we played these guys last year.”
“That first goal got Mike a little out of position,” Springdale coach Cesareo Sanchez said. “It was hard for us to recover.”
The Dynamos had very few scoring opportunities. The precise spacing of Rebels defenders made it tough for Springdale to mount any sort of attack.
“They know our players,” Sanchez said. “They were a step ahead of us, jumped a little higher than us and were a bit ahead.”
T.J. Cherry blasted a direct kick from over 30 yards out. The ball caromed off Rosario for an insurance goal with 18:37 left in the match.
Springdale was held to three shots.
Thursday’s contest brought down the curtain on an outstanding career by Zolnierczyk. The 6-foot-4 senior led the Dynamos to a 48-27-3 record over his four varsity seasons.
“It feels so good to coach someone like that,” Sanchez said. “To see him mature from the time he’s a freshman and see his success off the field gives you a great feeling as a coach.”
Zolnierczyk will be spending the weekend at Harvard, touring the campus and watching The Crimson’s game Saturday night. He might also observe some classes.
Owner of 14 shutouts this season, Zolnierczyk also has an offer from Robert Morris and expects more to come in now that the season is over.
Zolnierczyk will be difficult to replace, but he is the only Springdale starter graduating.