A-K Valley boys soccer teams look to lock up WPIAL playoff berths this week
Heading into the final week of the WPIAL boys soccer regular season, two Alle-Kiski Valley teams -- Springdale and Deer Lakes -- have secured playoff spots, while nine others still are alive but have work to do to be included in the tournament fields from Class 4A to A.
Postponed and rescheduled matches because of bad weather and unplayable field conditions have created a log jam of games as the section schedules conclude.
They also will create a furious race to the finish line as the top four teams in each section to qualify for the postseason -- and possibly five with ties -- are determined.
“The pressure is at a higher level now as teams fight for those playoff spots,” said Burrell coach Andrew Kariotis, whose Bucs (4-5) put more pressure on Freeport (5-5) for the fourth and final playoff spot in Section 2-2A with Monday’s 3-2 double overtime victory over Derry (1-9).
“Derry fought hard and took us to OT on a day we didn’t want to be in OT because of (Tuesday’s game),” Kariotis said.
Burrell and Freeport meet Tuesday at Freeport in a rematch of a 4-1 Bucs victory Sept. 18.
The Bucs control their own destiny. A win over the Yellowjackets and another one at home against Valley (0-9) on Thursday clinches fourth place outright.
Freeport, which wraps up a playoff spot if it beats Burrell, concludes section play Thursday at Deer Lakes.
Deer Lakes (12-0-1, 9-0-1) leads the way in Section 2 and captures the outright section title with a win at Mt. Pleasant (7-2) on Tuesday.
Springdale (9-2-1, 8-1-1 Section 3-A) has home section matches remaining against Riverview and Vincentian on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. The Dynamos, who have only given up four goals in 12 games, are second in the section to Avonworth (9-0-1), and the teams played to a scoreless tie Sept. 11.
Plum scored a crucial 5-2 win over playoff contender Penn-Trafford last Friday, and with a 7-5 Section 3-4A record, the Mustangs control their own destiny for a playoff berth.
They will clinch with a win Tuesday over Hempfield and Thursday at Penn Hills.
“That win over Penn-Trafford was a huge boost,” Plum coach Anthony Russo said. “We have it all in our control, and that’s nice. The guys have stayed focused through all the ups and downs this season.”
Fox Chapel is in a similar situation in Section 1-4A as it battles in a competitive race.
Pine-Richland (7-2-3), Butler (7-3-1), North Allegheny (7-4) and the Foxes (7-5) entered the week separated by three points for second through fifth in the section standings.
Fox Chapel hosts Butler on Tuesday before closing out section play Thursday at Central Catholic. The Foxes beat the Golden Tornadoes the first time around, and they outlasted North Allegheny, 1-0, last Thursday on a second-half goal from Tommy Tsai.
Kiski Area (6-5) is tied with Indiana for third place in Section 1-3A, and the Cavaliers and Indians hope to hold off Knoch (5-6-1) and Highlands (4-7).
Kiski and Highlands meet Tuesday evening.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Cavaliers coach Sean Arnold said. “Highlands needs to win to stay alive, so they will be a hungry group. We have to be prepared for them to come out fast.”
Knoch is making a charge in the standings with its third straight win Monday, a 5-0 victory over Armstrong to go with wins over Highlands (1-0) and Kiski (2-0) last week.
“The section has been so competitive, so anything can happen,” Arnold said.
Knoch visits Indiana on Tuesday before ending section play at home Thursday against section leader Mars. Kiski hosts Indiana on Thursday and closes out section play Saturday at Hampton.
Highlands takes on Armstrong on Thursday and Indiana on Oct. 16.
St. Joseph, 5-6 and in third place in Section 2-A, closes its section slate at Serra Catholic (3-4) on Tuesday and can strengthen its hold on a playoff spot with a win over the Eagles.
The Spartans are 5-2 over their last seven section matches after starting 0-4. Daniel Fabregas has a school-record 35 goals this season.
“The guys’ mindsets are really good right now,” coach Matt Skoda said. “It took us a while to win a game, but the guys were still positive. We made a couple of small adjustments and have played well since then.”
Riverview, 2-7 in Section 3-A, needs to win its final three section games and get help if it wants to join the postseason party.