HOLLIDAYSBURG – From the start of Tuesday’s PIAA Class A boys soccer first round playoff game, Winchester Thurston dominated possession and dictated the contest’s pace. The District 7 runner-up Bears thrived on two clusters of two goals in the first half to take the lead over District 6 champion Bishop Carroll.
Beck Buchanan and Grant Robinson each scored a pair of goals to lead Winchester Thurston to a 7-0 victory over Bishop Carroll at Tiger Stadium.
The Huskies, making their second state playoff appearance, finished the campaign with a record of 13-8.
Despite the lopsided loss, coach David Paronish remained upbeat after the game.
“We haven’t been in the state playoffs in 12 years, that’s our second time ever,” Paronish said. “We’re really not upset with our season. We were happy to be here. You can’t win them all.
“Eventually, the season ends.”
Winchester Thurston will meet Lancaster Country Day, which beat McConnellsburg 2-1 (4-3 on penalty kicks), on Saturday. The Bears finished the contest with a 22-1 shots on goal and 11-0 corner kick advantage.
“It was a pretty solid start. Everybody contributed,” Winchester Thurston coach Adam Brownold said. “It’s nice to get the guys off the bench playing. We just moved the ball pretty well.
“It was a nice night for our guys.”
To illustrate goalkeeper Morgan Graham’s inactiveness, Brownold said, “My goalie said he’s freezing. I told him he should yell at the defense for that. I told the boys, ‘I don’t want the ball to go out past the 50.’ They did that, they were hungry.”
Bishop Carroll senior goalkeeper Joey Bernard made 15 saves.
The Bears registered a shot on goal just 15 seconds into the game and later broke through in the eighth minute.
On a failed clear attempt, Buchanan trickled a shot into the far right side of the net 7:42 into the game. Just 42 seconds later, Robinson buried a goal to go up 2-0.
Scoring in short spurts has become a hallmark of the Bears.
“We’ve kind of been doing that all year, where we get three or four in a five-minute span,” Brownold said.
“We’ve scored 130-plus goals and we have three guys with 23 or more goals. We spread it around.”
In the 31st minute, Robinson found the twine. Buchanan followed up the goal by blasting a one-timer between Bernard’s legs just 17 seconds later to lead 4-0 at halftime.
“I would say they were the most technically proficient. Their ball control was very good,” Paronish complimented Winchester Thurston (17-2), which lost 1-0 to Greensburg Central Catholic in the District 7 title game on Friday.
Diederik-Paul Schlingemann headed in a goal off Buchanan’s corner kick with 28:25 left.
Oliver Daboo scored off Jordan Poller-Prince’s feed. Nicholas Blair’s header coming off Daboo’s corner finished the scoring with 8:11 left.
Bishop Carroll’s lone shot on goal came with 33:05 left in the first half.
Paronish was still pleased with the season, crediting how far the program has progressed in a short time.
“We’re a small school in a small town. We started the beginning of last season with nine players, worked our way up to 15 through the season,” he said. “We’re a growing program. We haven’t been this far in a really long time. I’m proud of what we accomplished this year.
“We’re a second-half team. The score didn’t really reflect how much our intensity came out in that second half.
“They got three but we played a much better second half.”
Bishop Carroll loses four senior starters to graduation, but return the program’s all-time leading goal scorer in Jackson Hudkins.
“For us, every year the district championship is our goal,” Paronish said. “If we make it there, we’re not upset with our season. We’re a small school, we don’t always have a lot to work with and we’re coming off five years of losing playoff games straight. We’re just happy to have gotten here. I don’t think there’s any players outside of my seniors who are upset with far we made it.”