JACKSON TWP — Seneca Valley’s momentum lasted 48 seconds.
The Raiders’ Ben Jarrett scored to tie Wednesday’s game against North Allegheny at six with just two seconds remaining in regulation.
The Tigers won the faceoff to begin the four-minute, sudden-death overtime period, but immediately turned the ball over and the Raiders called a timeout.
SV, however, never got the chance to execute its play, turning the ball over themselves.
Moments later, NA senior Scott Davis beat Raider goalie Jordan Culichia as the Tigers prevailed 7-6 on a cold and blustery night at NexTier Stadium.
After SV’s final turnover, it was the Tigers who called a timeout to plan for the game-winning shot. The team took possession deep in its own end.
“We wanted to set up a sideline clear, which worked,” said NA coach John Rullan. “Then, when we got into our offensive set, we were looking to take advantage of certain matchups.”
Davis’ shot came from the right of SV’s net. It was his second tally of the night and he was immediately mobbed by his teammates following the deciding goal.
“He (Davis) had been struggling, but he buried that shot tonight,” said Rullan.
Turnovers again hampered SV’s offensive effort, even before the miscue in overtime. The Raiders committed four in Wednesday’s fourth quarter.
“It’s just a matter of not focusing,” said Raiders coach Lance Diamond. “It’s relaxing for that split second that allows the defense to intercept a pass. But our guys never quit and continued to fight.”
NA scored three straight goals in the final 6:35 of the third quarter to take a 6-3 lead. But goals from Derek Finney, with 5:28 left, and Lucas Smith (1:32) set the stage for Jarrett’s game-tying score.
“You have to give credit to Seneca Valley,” said Rullan. “They busted their butts to tie the game.”
Jarrett and senior Cole Fyock both scored twice in the game for the Raiders.
Grant Page and Joe Griffin joined Davis as multiple goal scorers for the Tigers, who also received a score from Stephen Kelleher.
Culichia made nine saves in his first game back after recovering from an injured collarbone. NA’s John Brandon stopped eight shots.
The loss puts the Raiders’ backs to the wall in the WPIAL Division I playoff picture. SV fell to 1-3 in section play and 4-7 overall.
“We have three section games left (Shady Side Academy, Butler and Franklin Regional),” said Diamond. “They are all must-wins and we have to hope other teams lose a few.”
Meanwhile, the Tigers are 4-1 in section action and are in a much better position as the playoffs draw closer.
The top four teams from the section will qualify for the WPIAL tournament.
“Parity is so strong in our section,” said Rullan, “that it may take five wins to get in.”