GREENSBURG - While the temperature and snow flurries made the PIAA Class AA semifinal chilly, it was the West Allegheny defense that left the Bedford boys soccer team ice cold.
The District 7 champion downed Bedford, 1-0, at Hempfield High School. It was the second straight year Bedford's season came to a close one game away from playing for a state title.
"It was a hard fought battle," Bedford coach Jeff Thomas said. "We fought to the end. I don't think anyone expected us to get this far. [The players] should be proud of what they accomplished."
The Bisons were unable to find a way to break through the stifling West Allegheny defense that has given up only five goals all season and has not allowed a score since Oct. 10. Bedford's defense, while strong, suffered a breakdown late in the first period as Cooper Amos scored with 1:29 on the clock.
"We scored in the quarterfinals the same way," West Allegheny coach Kevin Amos said. "It is demoralizing. We knew they would come out and play hard in the second half. They moved a couple people around and put a lot of pressure on us up top."
The Bisons had their best opportunity to score late in the second half. Garrett Thomas sent a corner kick into the box that was barley deflected by a West Allegheny defender out of bounds. Bedford then had opportunities on another corner kick and a free kick but couldn't convert.
"We fought to the end," Jeff Thomas said. "The one goal they had no one marked on him. It was one little mistake and I figured one mistake would decide the game."
It was only the second scoreless game for Bedford this season as it tied Westmont Hilltop, 0-0, on Sept. 18. It was screeching halt for an offense that has been fluent during the PIAA tournament, scoring five goals in two games - including three from senior Belgium exchange student Sebastien Jene-Aljua
Senior goalkeeper Brady Thomas had a strong effort against the Indians who scored 10 goals in the opening games of the PIAA playoffs. The previous three seasons, he played at striker for the Bison.
"He has been tremendous for us all season," Jeff Thomas said. "He just had a will to contribute to the team. All these kids really came together. We only had three starters back from last year."
Thomas is one of 11 Bisons seniors that played their last game in the loss. The team has had a strong run over the last four years, reaching the PIAA tournament each season - including back-to-back semifinals trips these past two years.
"They made a tremendous difference," Jeff Thomas said. "Last year when a lot of them weren't starters, it was like scrimmaging another team in practice. Having that depth makes all the difference in the world."
West Allegheny will play Holy Ghost Prep, which defeated Pequae Valley, 1-0, in the other semifinals in the PIAA championship game at Hershey Park Stadium Saturday.
"Our team doesn't like to lose," Kevin Amos said. "They lost in the semifinals as juniors and seniors and the didn't like that feeling. I told the guys in the past you need a little luck in the playoffs. And [against Bedford] luck shined on us."
SCORE BY HALVES
West Allegheny1 0-1
First half: WA-Cooper Amos (unassisted), 38:71.
Records: Bedford (21-1-2); West Allegheny (21-0-3).