The Central Bucks South Titans are a day away from what would be an improbable PIAA Class 4A boys soccer championship.
The 14th seed in the District One playoffs doesn’t typically advance out of the district tournament, let alone go all the way to the state final.
But that’s where the Titans find themselves after Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over District Seven champion Norwin in a state semifinal at Chambersburg.
South will face mighty Conestoga on Friday at 7 p.m. at Eagle View Middle School in Mechanicsburg. The game will be shown live on Pennsylvania Cable Network.
Interestingly, CB South’s football team will also be in action on Friday at 7 at Central Bucks West in a District One Class 6A semifinal.
The Herald spoke to coach Kyle Pettican before the Titans took the field Tuesday, and he was preaching teamwork.
“We don’t have one or two superstar players dragging the team through,” he said. “We have a team of guys who know their roles and responsibilities, and everyone does their job.”
That certainly continued on Tuesday. The Titans scored on an own goal in the first half, and junior goalkeeper Pat VanLuvanee earned the shutout.
“He has continued his outstanding play. If anything, he has become even better in the state games,” Pettican said of VanLuvanee, who has been a member of the prestigious New York Red Bulls Academy squad.
Pettican said VanLuvanee has been aided by a strong defense.
“In our quarterfinal of states, he wasn’t tested a bunch due to our outstanding defensive performance,” he said.
The Titans (19-5-2), who lost a couple of early-season games without VanLuvanee, were the Suburban One League Colonial Division runners-up. Six teams from District One Class 6A go to states, and South punched its ticket by blanking Boyertown in a consolation game.
The Titans ended districts with a 7-0 loss to Council Rock North in the fifth-place game.
“As we had already qualified, I used this as an opportunity for players who don’t play much a time to try and step up and show me what they got in case we need them in states,” Pettican said.
South’s performance in states shows that loss didn’t mean a thing.
The Titans had never won a state game, but advanced past District Three champion Cumberland Valley in the first round in penalty kicks to finally get to a PIAA quarterfinal. VanLuvanee made two saves in the shootout.
In the quarterfinals, South shut out North Allegheny, 2-0, with goals by Oleksandr Sokol and Christian Canally.
Pettican said others have been key during the run.
“Connor Victor, Andrew Sherstnyov, Evan Rumford and Nate MacLeod have all been consistent in their performances,” he said.
MacLeod scored on a penalty kick in the second half against Cumberland Valley, while Victor scored in penalty kicks following regulation and overtime.
As Pettican was on the long bus ride to Chambersburg on Tuesday, his sole focus was on Norwin. But he was asked about a potential opponent in the final, with Conestoga and CR North also playing Tuesday night. He described it as “crazy special no matter who we play.”
South played North twice this year, a 1-1 tie and the fifth-place district game. Both teams have standout junior keepers – VanLuvanee and Calvin Hopkins.
“It would also be cool to see two teams of Suburban One match in the final,” Pettican said.
Conestoga beat North, 3-0, to improve to 24-0-1. The Central League and District One champions have allowed only eight goals on the season.
Pettican is familiar with the Conestoga program. He played for coach David Zimmerman and was part of the 2011 state championship team.
“Of course, it would be fun to face my old school and my old coach,” he said. “Kind of a full-circle thing.”
If Pettican is putting gold medals around his players’ neck sometime after 8:30 on Friday night, the Titans will have certainly earned the championship by knocking off the undefeated Pioneers.