Tigers Quiet Tornado To Advance To WPIAL Championship
The North Allegheny boys’ soccer team snapped Butler’s 14-game unbeaten streak and advanced to the WPIAL Class 4A championship game for the first time since 2017 with a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night at Hampton High School. The second-seeded Tigers will take on eighth-seeded Norwin in the WPIAL title tilt on Saturday night from Highmark Stadium.
Since a 4-1 loss to North Allegheny on Sept. 5, the Butler Golden Tornado had not lost and were coming off a 3-0 shutout of Peters Township in the quarterfinal round on Saturday. The two Section 1-4A rivals hit each other with probing jabs in the early going but North Allegheny broke through for the first haymaker of the night in the game’s 26th minute. Junior Zach Nash sent a pass to a streaking Nathan Katari, who deftly dribbled by a defender near the end line and deflected a ball off Butler defenseman Jaxon Llewellyn and into the GT’s net for a 1-0 lead.
In the 34th minute, North Allegheny was called for a high kick and Butler was granted an indirect kick from 17 yards out. Senior Cody Lubinsky capitalized on the opportunity and scored to tie the game at 1-1. The deadlock was short-lived thanks to junior Mykola Denysenko who scored less than a minute later to give NA the lead back, 2-1. The initial shot by Denysenko struck bar down off the crossbar but didn’t cross the goal line. Denysenko, who was named the Wright Automotive Player of the Game, alertly drove in the rebound for his second goal of the season.
NA’s one-goal lead remained intact until the 67th minute when Nash stole the ball deep in Butler territory and sent a perfect crossing pass to sophomore Graham Kunz for his second goal of the season and the Tigers advantage ballooned to 3-1.
Following a lengthy delay in the waning minutes due to a red card for Butler and a yellow card to North Allegheny, the Golden Tornado edged closer on a Lubinsky goal that deflected off an NA defenseman and in with 1:01 left in the game. Lubinsky’s second marker of the night trimmed the score to 3-2, Tigers. While the late goal gave Butler hope, North Allegheny outlasted the Tornado to win for the sixth time in the last eight head-to-head meetings, going 6-1-1 in that span.
North Allegheny narrowly outshot Butler, 8-7, and led in corner kicks, 4-3. Senior goalie Dante Accamando made five saves to earn the victory. Junior goalie Ryan Young also saw time in net late in the game. Butler’s Drew Knight made four saves in a losing effort.
With the win, North Allegheny improves to 16-1-3 on the season, while Butler’s season ends with a 14-3-3 mark. The Tigers will battle the Norwin Knights at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday in the WPIAL Class 4A championship. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network.
Boys Soccer Summary vs. Butler, 10-31-23
|SCORE BY HALVES||1||2||FINAL|