Vincent Gigliotti

WINDBER – Punxsutawney senior Vincent Gigliotti picked an opportune moment to make what he described as one of the best shots he’s ever taken during his high school boys soccer career.

Gigliotti received the ball from junior Ethan Watt along the left sideline at Windber Stadium, maneuvered into open space and perfectly placed a shot high-and-inside the far post for the only goal scored in Tuesday’s PIAA Class AA first-round playoff game against Somerset.

District 9 champion Punxsutawney (18-3) won 1-0 in overtime and advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinal round against District 7 champion Quaker Valley, a 3-1 winner over District 10 runner-up Fairview on Tuesday. District 5 champion Somerset closed a 17-4 season.

“I was pretty tired at the end, but I saw the throw-in and their defense wasn’t back yet,” said Gigliotti, who found the net with 12:55 left in the extra session. 

“I got myself in an open position and took a touch inside and it was over after that. It was one the best shots I’ve ever had, I think.”

Punxsutawney controlled the pace for much of a scoreless first half. The Golden Eagles made adjustments to create a few opportunities.

“I’m proud of the guys and what they’ve accomplished, not just this year but particularly with the seniors the last four years,” Somerset coach Mark Wassilchalk said. 

“Tonight we just weren’t able to generate the offensive attack that we really needed.

“The first half we kind of survived. The second half, a little bit of a momentum switch,” Wassilchalk said. “We started being able to get the ball to the outside. We knew that they really pressed high and attacked with numbers. Our guys struggled to adjust to that in the first half. We started utilizing the guys on the outside a little bit more to force them to cover our guys on the outside.”

Neither team scored in the second half, forcing overtime.

“Overtime, a great shot ends the game,” Wassilchalk said. “That’s one you dream of as a player, a perfectly placed shot. No keeper is getting it. It’s hard for us. Congratulations to them as they move on to the next stage.”

Punxsutawney goalkeeper Jacob Ebel had the shutout. Somerset keeper Ian Lasure, a junior, also had a strong game, fighting off the Chucks’ pressure.

Freshman Quintin Robison briefly replaced Lasure after the starting keeper was shaken up while challenging the play on Ben Gigliotti’s scoring chance with 29:44 remaining in the second half. Lasure returned with 27:30 on the clock.

“I feel bad for our guys but a couple days and hopefully they’ll be able to look back on this year for the seniors and the years past,” Wassilchalk said. “To win a LHAC title and a district title in their senior year is an accomplishment that doesn’t occur very often. They were freshmen the last time we had won a district title.”

The Golden Eagles won a 2-1 double overtime game against Everett to claim the 5-AA crown.

“The work that they put in during the offseason, winning indoor tournaments, outdoor, getting ready for the regular season,” Wassilchalk said. “They’ve done a lot and they’ve given our younger guys something to drive for as they come up through the years.”

Vincent Gigliotti credited Somerset’s players. 

“They were putting the pressure on but we were coming at them hard,” Gigliotti said. “We weren’t as good at moving the ball, one-touch passing, but we knew if we could get it down the line and put it back inside, we could outrun them.

“It’s amazing,” Gigliotti added. “I’m a senior. I can’t wait. I’m so proud of my team that we made it this far. Never in our high school history have we made it this far.” 

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

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