It is still September and barely the beginning of the second half of section play, but Tuesday night's trip to Freeport for the Shady Side Academy boys soccer team represents a likely last chance. If the Indians cannot defeat Freeport, or at least tie them, their hopes of a section title are likely gone. The Indians fell to the Yellowjackets, 1-0, in the second game of the season. Since then neither team has lost a game. Freeport (8-0, 7-0) and Shady Side Academy (6-1, 6-1) are 1-2 in Class 2A Section 2. A win Tuesday night by Freeport would open up a two-game lead over Shady Side Academy and make a comeback for a section crown all but impossible for the Indians considering how Freeport is playing. A Shady Side Academy win changes everything and there will be scoreboard watching down the stretch. It could also keep the door open for Deer Lakes (6-2, 5-2), a strong contender in third place in the section.
The Shady Side Academy boys took fourth place at the Altoona Invitational on Saturday.
Patrick Bem was the top finisher for Shady Side Academy, taking 17th place. The senior crossed the line in 18 minutes, 14.63 seconds. Senior Caldwell Holden finished in 35th place with a time of 18:57.57. Sophomore Leo Liu wasn't far behind in 37th place with a time of 19:04.92. Gannon Leech finished in 46th place. The senior crossed the line in 19:22.92.
The Shady Side Academy boys grabbed the last podium spot in Class 1A at the Red, White and Blue Invitational on Saturday. Winchester Thurston won the meet.
Patrick Bem was the first runner to finish for Shady Side Academy. The senior grabbed 45th place with a time of 19:19. Junior Garrett Cleveland finished one-half second behind Bem for 46th place. Caldwell Holden was the 56th runner overall and third for Shady Side Academy. Leo Liu grabbed 68th place.
If there is ever such a thing as a down year at Shady Side Academy, this might be it.
A year ago, the senior-laden Indians came within a game of beating North Allegheny for the WPIAL Class 3A team title, but this season have only two players – senior No. 1 Devin Gramley who played at both second and third singles a year ago and qualified for the WPIAL 3A singles tournament – and her sister, sophomore Erin Gramley who was on the top doubles team. Third singles player, sophomore Paige Golden, wasn't even on the team last year.
Still, this is Shady Side Academy and the school usually finds a way to get it done come playoff time, which will be in about three weeks with the new WPIAL configuration that has the team tournament taking place before the individual singles and doubles.
Naman Dua and Tanay Kumata had their moments in the PIAA Class AAA doubles tournament.
At the end of the day, though, they could not pull off the kind of upsets that got them into the finals in the first place.
Dua and Kumata, the WPIAL runners-up as the No. 7 seed entering the tournament, defeated the District 2 champions, Devin Paulison and Kevin Osczepinski, 6-2, 6-2, in the first round of the event on Friday at Hershey Racquet Club. But they could not get past the fourth-place team from District 1, Will Frigerio and Josh Taylor of Radnor, who came away with a relatively easy, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) win in the quarterfinals.
Still, both player, Dua, a freshman, and Kumata, a junior, became the fourth consecutive WPIAL runner-up to win a first round match at the state tournament. And they gained valuable experience for a run next season.