It's A State Soccer Title Sweep For District 1 Strath Haven Rolls, 8-0

Posted: November 21, 1995

ALTOONA, Pa. — The best high school soccer team in the state showed off its brilliance yesterday on the state-championship stage.

Strath Haven simply overwhelmed and ultimately embarrassed a dazed Erie McDowell team, 8-0, to capture its third PIAA Class AAA state title.

The Panthers (24-3) strafed the Trojans (21-3-2) for five goals in the first half, two apiece from Peter Luzak and Andre Spangler, and went on to set a state record for goals in a championship game.

"When we're mentally prepared and physically prepared, there's no team that can stay with us," Luzak said. "At least, no team that we've met."

Strath Haven, the District 1 runner-up, outshot the District 10 champions, 21-2. And before he was pulled for Charles Huang in the final quarter, Panthers goalie Don Tuohey had to make only a pair of easy saves in the first quarter as his teammates overran the Trojans.

And to think Panthers coach Mike Barr had been concerned about his team's passing and overall sharpness on Mansion Park Stadium's artificial turf field.

The Panthers looked razor-sharp from the opening goal, which came less than three minutes into the game. Spangler was tripped just outside the box, and Ryan O'Neill followed by just missing on a penalty kick. Jeff Fisher then took the ensuing corner kick. Luzak went up high and found Fisher's right-side feed with his head, flicking the ball past goalie Brian Yochim to start the rout.

Two minutes later, O'Neill, showing great ball skills on the fast surface, chipped a ball that Luzak again flicked into the net, this time with the back of his head.

Whatever competitiveness this game might have had vanished in the second period, when the Panthers scored three goals.

Spangler scored his first goal less than five minutes into the period, taking a feed from Fisher and one-touching a ground ball that slipped into the right side of the net.

Two minutes later, Luzak fed Matteus Novo on the right side of the box. Novo beat his defender and bombed in the fourth goal.

The Trojans simply had no one with the speed and talent to mark Spangler, and he finished the first-half goal explosion when he took a behind-the-back pass from O'Neill and slammed home a high tracer from 18 yards with less than 10 minutes remaining in the half.

Aaron Carroll scored the sixth Panthers goal midway through the third period, and O'Neill tallied on a breakaway with less than two minutes left in the quarter.

Matt Kaufman finished the onslaught with a goal midway through the fourth quarter.

Barr had said before the season that this team could become the best Panthers squad ever assembled. He only smiled last night when asked to rate his three state champions, saying he didn't want to offend anybody and adding only that his current squad "is a really good team."

But this team also was without two of its better players in nationally regarded midfielder Ryan Trout and defender Neeraj Chopra. Both suffered injuries and missed all of the postseason action.

"That's an important point," Barr said. "We lost two starters right at the beginning of districts. And these kids never thought about folding. They had a goal, and they kept it in the back of their minds. (Co-captains) Peter Luzak and Ryan O'Neill were terrific players and great individuals. They've been leaders for us all year long."

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