T-D HS Soccer

South Boys blanks North in Santa Fund Classic

By: Shawn Curtis

Using a trio of second-half goals as snow blanketed the pitch at Trojan Stadium, the South All-Stars defeated the North 4-0 in the boys’ half of the Santa Fund Soccer Classic doubleheader at Trojan Stadium.
Game MVP Austin Swihura of North Star netted the first goal in the 20th minute, gaining control in the penalty area before skipping a shot to the lower left.
For the Cougars senior, the game was solid way to end his high-school career, which saw two trips to the PIAA semifinals while playing under coach Chad Duryea.
“It’s awesome,” Swihura said. “Just awesome to come together with the all-stars from the South in Somerset County.”
The South – comprised of all-stars from Bedford, Berlin Brothersvalley, Conemaugh Township, North Star, Salisbury-Elk Lick, Somerset and Windber – took control in the second as snowflakes joined the contest, causing the half to be shortened to 30 minutes in the interest of player safety. Bedford’s Garrett Thomas sent home the second goal in the 52nd minute with Windber’s Adam Feather following in the 55th minute.
A tally by Feather’s Rambler teammate – Lucas Leitenberger – capped the scoring.
The contest also allowed for light-hearted moments during the snowy second half as goalkeeper Jeff Callihan of Conemaugh Township sprinted down the field to join a set piece formation with the South attempting a corner kick before hustling back to his goal area. During the final 10 seconds, Ryan McIlveen (Somerset) dropped to the turf and made a snow angel.
“It was quite the exciting night,” South coach Brett Hoffman said. “This is the first time that we’ve had inclement weather, so it was quite exciting in the second half.” 
In the end, it was an opportunity for student-athletes who normally oppose each other to come together as teammates for an afternoon.
“It’s great to see the kids in rivalry games during the season,” said Hoffman, who coaches at Windber. “Then they come out here and they’re teammates and they’re just as excited to play with each other as they are to play against each other.” 
The North squad was comprised of seniors from Bishop Carroll, Bishop McCort, Cambria County Christian, Cambria Heights, Central Cambria, Forest Hills, Greater Johnstown, Richland, United and Westmont Hilltop.
Proceeds from the match benefitted The Tribune-Democrat’s Santa Fund, a program which helps distribute Christmas gifts to needy children in the region.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Hoffman said. “Any time we can get together and raise money for the less fortunate. Raise money for the kids in the area that are in need and throw in some soccer along the way. It’s a win-win.”