Santa A1

The South All-Stars took home wins in both the girls and boys matches of the first Santa Fund Soccer Classic at Trojan Stadium.

The South All-Stars, comprised of athletes from Somerset, Bedford and Westmoreland counties, won the girls match 2-1 while tallying a 4-1 win in the boys game.

Athletes from Cambria and Indiana counties comprised the North rosters.

They weren’t the only winners on Sunday. Proceeds from the match were donated to The Santa Fund.

The Santa Fund is a community service program of The Tribune-Democrat that provides Christmas gifts for children whose families may be enduring hardship.

The fund, in its fifth year, is administered by the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, which receives all donations and processes payments for the gifts.

Last year, the Santa Fund served more than 1,000 local youngsters with donations from local individuals, organizations and companies totaling more than $22,000.

“It’s a great cause and it shares that Christmas spirit with some kids who might not otherwise feel it,” Tribune-Democrat editor Chip Minemyer said. “We were also able to watch two great soccer games and give these seniors a good chance to go out on a high note in all-star game. Win or lose, it looked like everyone had a good time and that’s what it’s about.” 

The Santa Fund Soccer Classic itself gave numerous area seniors one last chance to show their soccer skills as high schoolers.

Bedford’s Kelly Beegle was the MVP of the girls match. Conemaugh Township’s Jake Sauter received MVP honors in the boys game.

Beegle netted what proved to be the deciding goal in the girls match, taking a throughball and depositing it into the net during the 62nd minute.

“It was a perfectly placed throughball,” Beegle said. “Luckily, I just got my foot on it. It wasn’t a hard shot, I just kind of placed it. The throughball couldn’t have been any better.”  

Prior to Beegle’s goal, Ligonier Valley’s Grace Yantis controlled a rebound in heavy traffic before flicking the ball into the net to give the South a 1-0 lead in the 60th minute.

The North’s lone goal found its way past Meyersdale’s Kelli Berkley in the 76th minute as Cambria Heights’ Olivia Woodley punched home a rebound in traffic.

A frenzied North rally to net the equalizer was turned away by South defenders and Berkley, preserving the South win.

 “It’s all for a good cause in the first place,” Beegle said. “It was nice to get a goal in the second half. It was nice to play with girls from other teams that you don’t normally get to play with. Everybody contributed to it and it was definitely a team effort. We all worked very hard.”

In the boys match, Sauter got his squad off to a quick start, punching a shot past Westmont Hilltop’s Ben Zurilla in the ninth minute.

“It was great,” Sauter said. “We had a bunch of players that I was usually opposing (on the team). It was for a great cause and we had a bunch of fun together. To get MVP was a big surprise because, in my opinion, the whole team was MVPs. Both teams were great and it was a bunch of fun.” 

About three minutes after the Sauter goal, Rockwood’s Cody Sterner redirected a throw-in by North Star’s Ryan Horner to give the South a 2-0 lead.  

A goal by Johnstown Christian’s Ben Yelovich in the 22nd minute extended the South’s lead to 3-0.

“We practiced together and coach (Chad) Duryea, coach (Chris) Miller and coach Mark (Wassilchalk) got us working together as a team, which really showed (Sunday),” Sauter said.

The South’s final goal came in the 48th minute off the foot of Somerset’s Jeremy Scheffel.

Forest Hills’ Julian Gallina spoiled the shutout bid of the South’s Kody McKenzie (Somerset) in the 80th minute as he bent a corner kick into the net with 20 seconds remaining.

In the end, Minemyer didn’t need a scoreboard to note the success of the day in terms of area soccer and for The Santa Fund.

“It was a fantastic day on a couple of different levels,” Minemyer said. “You had the opportunity to showcase some really good soccer players, boys and girls, from across the region. Two exciting games with a lot of talent and athletic ability, that was the one thing. We were raising money for a great cause at the same time.” 

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