JACKSON TWP — With his left-footed boot late in Saturday's WPIAL Class 4A boys soccer quarterfinal playoff against Taylor Allderdice, Seneca Valley's Nathan Prex turned nearly a full game's worth of frustration into jubilation for the Raiders.
For over 77 minutes, SV pelted Dragons' goalkeeper Ethan Ottey with shot after shot. But crisp centering passes, 10 corner kicks and timely headers were not good enough to dent the scoreboard.
But in the 78th minute, the Raiders quickly went on the attack after SV goalkeeper Ryan Krumenacker made a save following an Allderdice free kick from 30 yards — one of only two saves he needed to make on the day — and Prex ended up with possession to the left of the Dragons' net.
He turned toward the goal and, with a defender closing in to his right, let a shot go from 15 yards. The ball eluded a diving Ottey and settled in the right corner of the net.
SV's players on the field and bench erupted following the goal, the only score in a 1-0 victory at NexTier Stadium.
“I've been working on that shot for nine months,” said Prex, whose tally tied Ron Gruca's single-season school record for goals with 32. “I felt pretty comfortable taking it and I'm just glad it went in.”
The Raiders (16-0-1), the defending WPIAL and state champions, will take on section rival Fox Chapel (15-3-1), a winner over Canon-McMillan Saturday, in a semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny's Newman Stadium.
The Raiders out-shot the Dragons 24-4, with Ottey making 13 saves.
He jumped and snagged several corner kicks to thwart scoring chances and deflected several shots over the crossbar. But his most impressive saves came seconds apart just 90 seconds before Prex's goal.
He made a diving stop to his right on a shot taken from 15 yards, but was unable to control the ball, which was soon back in the air just yards from the net.
SV's Cole Kamarec headed a shot straight toward the net, but Ottey had somehow gotten back to his feet and pulled down yet another save. Kamarec leaned over and put his hands on his knees in disbelief.
“Ethan is very athletic, has good feet and hands,” said Allderdice coach Sam Belin. “He was great today.”
SV coach George Williams could sense a bit of uneasiness from his team as the game remained scoreless.
“It's hard to be patient with all of those shots and no goals,” he said. “We started wearing them down, but then they started keeping 10 players in their own third of the field to defend against us.”
It was not the type of game Allderdice (14-5-1) is used to playing as Belin explained.
“For most of the year, we've been a possession team,” he said. “This was the first game all season that we were starved for the ball.
“Seneca Valley's defense closed everything on us today. Their midfielders were so confident.”
Against Fox Chapel, the Raiders will encounter the team that accounted for the only blemish on their record this season, a 2-2 tie Oct. 5.
SV defeated the Foxes, 2-0, in the first meeting in September.
“It's tough when you have to play a good team three times in one season,” said Williams. “Our guys have to get way up for that one because they're going to come at us with everything they got.”