Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Coach's Move Pays off for Central Valley

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Coach's Move Pays off for Central Valley

Article excerpt

It was a situation Central Valley had only been in once previously but it was a situation that the team was prepared for.

In the WPIAL semifinals on Monday night, Central Valley was trailing defending PIAA Class AA champion Moon Area, 2-1. It was only the second time all season the undefeated Warriors had to overcome a second-half deficit.

Coach Mark Perry knew exactly what to do.

Just as he did when his team trailed Hopewell, 1-0, in the second half during a regular-season match on Oct. 7, Perry moved defender Ashley Mutkus to attacking midfielder.

Just like his team did against Hopewell, the move paid off and Central Valley (18-0-0) found a way to equalize the score with about 11 minutes to play in regulation. The Warriors would go on to win in overtime, 3-2, and advance to the first WPIAL championship game in the short four-year history of the program.

Moving Mutkus up to the attack gave Central Valley a spark and opened things up.

Central Valley lost to Moon in the WPIAL semifinals in overtime last season. That Central Valley team featured seven freshmen. This time those seven freshmen were sophomores.

"The experience they got last year was huge," Perry said. "Last year we were a huge underdog. [Moon's players] were seniors, we were freshmen and we hung with them. We remembered that."

Central Valley had lost in the prior two WPIAL semifinals, including the overtime setback to Moon last season. Perry had been 0- 3 in WPIAL semifinals dating back to 2009 at Center prior to the merger with Monaca that formed Central Valley.

The Warriors showed their multiple scoring options and quick- strike ability on Monday night. All three goals were scored by outside midfielders. Hannah O'Connor, a top goal scorer a year ago before moving from central midfield to outside midfield, scored in the first minute of regulation. Olivia Pritt, who scored 13 regular- season goals, scored the tying goal in the second half and her twin sister, Cassie, scored 1:47 into overtime. …

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