MOON TOWNSHIP - It has already been West Allegheny's best boys soccer season in school history. So its PIAA Class AA playoff opener might have been the best performance ever by junior forward Mike Cummings.
Cummings scored five goals in West Allegheny's 6-0 win over Warren at Moon Area High School, eliminating the Dragons from the post-season with a 7-12-1 overall record. Warren, the District 10 No. 2 seed, was eliminated by a 19-0-3 team that recently won its first WPIAL championship and has allowed just five goals all season.
West Allegheny might be the one advancing in the state playoffs, but Warren coach Tom Harrington couldn't be more proud of his team's turnaround from the beginning of the season to end.
"We improved in the second half," said Harrington. "The guys came together. It would have been very easy to throw in the towel and say, 'this just isn't our season,' but we didn't do that. Nobody would have guessed after an 0-7 start that we would have been playing in the state tournament."
Warren finished 5-2-1 as the top Class AA seed out of Region 4 to qualify for the District 10 playoffs. The Dragons were 5-10-1 overall in the regular season, but shut out Girard, 3-0, and beat Region 2 champion Wilmington, 2-1, to advance to the final. There, Warren ran up against undefeated Harbor Creek and lost, 4-0, improving on a 7-0 loss from earlier in the season.
Then West Allegheny.
"It didn't go like I would have liked; we had a tough first half... and couldn't figure out how to stop (Cummings)," said Harrington. "Their defense pushed up a real high line, they controlled the ball, and any time we had the ball they put pressure on us and won the ball back pretty quickly."
Warren trailed 5-0 at halftime, with Cummings accounting for four scores.
"By the time we were able to figure it out, we were down 5-0 at halftime," said Harrington. "We came up against a very good team that was just a lot better than we were."
West Allegheny, which limited Warren to one shot on goal, advances to play Oley Valley, the District 3 runner-up.
Clark Eason had 15 saves as starting keeper for Warren.
"My goal at the beginning of the year was to win a District 10 title and we made it to the District 10 finals," said Harrington, whose Dragons advanced to states for the second time in four years and third time overall. "Every year our goals are to win a region title and to win a District 10 title. We fell a little short on them this year, but we have a lot of players coming back next year and guys are already excited about off-season play. We have a lot of positive feelings coming away from the season, even ending in a loss."