Scorers score, no matter how much history says otherwise.
For the Trinity High School boys soccer team, goals in the postseason haven’t just been difficult to score. They haven’t been scored at all.
When the Hillers needed it most Saturday, leading goal scorer Elijah Cincinnati didn’t let them down.
Finally getting loose and the ball to his dominant right foot, Cincinnati struck a hard, low liner into the bottom corner of the net with 5:18 left in regulation to break a tied match and give eighth-seeded Trinity a 2-1 victory over No. 9 Kiski in the first round of the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs at Hiller Field.
It was the first playoff victory for Trinity (14-4-0) since 1986, according to Hillers coach Ryan Julian, and ends a recent string of playoff frustrations. In the Hillers’ last four playoff appearances, they failed to advance to the second round and were outscored 18-0.
“Some of these guys don’t know we haven’t scored in our four previous playoff games,” Julian said. “To be able to win this game is the first obstacle that this program needed to overcome. We have had teams try to get to this point before. Our program has been slowly building to this.”
The late goal from Cincinnati, his 38th of the season, was one of very few chances he had in open space. It sends Trinity onto a quarterfinal matchup against top-seeded Franklin Regional, which disposed of Laurel Highlands, 16-0, in its first-round match Saturday.
The site and time of that Wednesday’s quarterfinal has yet to be determined.
“I wasn’t going to let that opportunity pass by,” Cincinnati said. “That’s the shot I take during warmups. I let it fly.”
Trinity ended its scoreless streak in the playoffs less than five minutes after halftime to take a 1-0 lead. A long free kick from defender Jonah Spencer found the diminutive Jacob Paez, who sailed between Kiski defenders, found the ball and headed it past goalkeeper Colton Giordano.
“Going into the half, I’m like ‘OK, maybe it will end up in penalty kicks,’” Julian joked of the goal drought in the postseason. “The moment we scored it was like a weight was lifted. We have been a team that if we score first we win games. We needed to score first. That goal just lifted our spirits and showed the growth as a program.”
Kiski (11-6-2) tied the match at 1-1 with 17:48 left when Aaron Witt took a free kick that bounded off bodies in the crowded goalie’s box and eventually found its way into the net.
The Cavaliers were in all-out-attack mode in the final four minutes but the Hillers kept every player back defensively to protect the one-goal lead for their ninth win in the last 10 matches.
“I can’t be more proud of our players,” Julian said. “This is the highest seed we’ve gotten in 30 some years. We’ve been working on being mentally strong. Today, that’s exactly what they were.”