T-D HS Soccer

Crushers boot Hilltoppers for title

By: Shawn Curtis

JOHNSTOWN — After falling twice to rival Westmont Hilltop during the regular season, the Bishop McCort Crimson Crushers have come a long way.
 The tally that helped Bishop McCort overtake the Hilltoppers on Tuesday – Steve Ingram’s goal in the 62nd minute – also traveled a great distance.
Thanks to Ingram’s two goals and a number of stops by goalkeeper Nick Spinelli, the Crimson Crushers captured a third straight District 6 Class A boys soccer crown by beating Westmont Hilltop 2-1 at Richland High School.
“These kids are unbelievable players,” Bishop McCort coach Ron Spinelli said. “They played their hearts out. We’ve lost to this team; this Westmont team is fantastic. We’ve lost to them twice this year.
“I told the boys that they’d have to reach deep, that they’d really have to come through and they absolutely did it. They played an unbelievable game.” 
Ingram, who also equalized the match in the 57th minute when he took a throughball into the penalty area before sending the ball past Hilltoppers goalkeeper Mitch Causer, tallied the game-winner just seconds after Nick Spinelli stopped Grant Gagnon’s try.
“I’ve been teasing him all year that what drops the ball is gravity,” Ron Spinelli said. “That kid actually dropped that ball. He dipped that ball right over the top of (Causer’s) head.” 
Ingram’s goal was a moment where the Crimson Crushers swung control of the contest.
“I got the ball and just took a touch to the right,” Ingram said. “I knew I had to bury it, we had to get one ahead. I took my best rip and gave it all I got and got it around the keeper’s hands.” 
In the remaining time, Westmont Hilltop (14-4-1) pressed the ball into numerous tries at net. Spinelli was there each time.
“It’s just not our day, I guess,” Westmont Hilltop coach Jason Hughes said. “We had golden opportunities. That’s sports. The team with the most opportunities doesn’t always win, it’s who can capitalize on them. They did. Hat’s off to them. They played a phenomenal game and I’m proud of them. I’m happy for those guys, they’re a great group of kids.”
The Hilltoppers broke a scoreless tie in the in the 53rd minute when Logan Blackburn collected a rebound from Lewie Buchovich’s post shot before pushing it to a gaping net.
It wasn’t the first time that Westmont Hilltop had struck post. In the 12th minute, Noah Marley controlled a crossing pass before ringing a ball off the right post.
Both teams shared chances to pick up the game’s first goal in the first half; only to have the ball trickle wide, or to have Nick Spinelli or Causer make the stop.
While physical at times, the match was a display of what has made this spirited rivalry what it’s become through the years.
“Those Westmont boys are good,” Ron Spinelli said. “You want to play against the best teams and that just brings out the best in both of us. That’s going in both directions. I’m sure (Westmont feels) the same way. The schools are close. A lot of these kids know each other. Some of these kids play on the same teams in the summer and in the spring, so there’s a lot of competition.
“If you’re going to play anybody and claim a title, you want to be able to beat the best and Westmont is the best.”
Hughes also spoke highly of the duels between the two squads.  
“They’re gamers,” Hughes said, “They always come to play. I knew it. I knew it was going to be a nail-biter (Tuesday). It always is against this team.”  
Bishop McCort will take on the District 7 champion – either Sewickley Academy or Beaver County Christian – on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.

Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/shawncurtis430.

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