Blogger's note: The following is a supplement to the Observer-Reporter's Athlete of the Year coverage, which is scheduled to appear in Sunday's edition. Today's topic is the top five games I covered during the school year.
California 2, Bentworth 1 (baseball)
A place in the WPIAL Class A championship game went to the winner. Both teams got to pitch its ace, and neither T.D. Conway or Tyler Delval disappointed in front of a crowd that spilled out of Washington & Jefferson's Ross Memorial Park. A combined 30 strikeouts and eight hits were all part of a nine-inning masterpiece complete with an electric crowd (imagine a WPIAL semifinal basketball game and you'll get an idea) and a 2-1 victory for California. Making the game more memorable was a stomach bug which inflicted several members of California's team the day before the game. Conway was released from Mon Valley Hospital just hours before his pitching arguably the best game of his high school career.
Chartiers-Houston 3, Carmichaels 2 (softball)
The Bucs entered the WPIAL Class A championship game at California University as the defending champion and prohibitive favorite. Carmichaels was fresh off a semifinal win over perennial power Sto-Rox - the Mikes trailed 5-0 at one point. Carmichaels probably got the better of play in the title game, but Chartiers-Houston twice rallied from one-run deficits to beat the Mikes 3-2 in nine innings. The Bucs won on Piper McLaughlin's two-run, two-out triple in the ninth. Oh, and 1,907 turned out to watch a championship game played at 11 a.m. during the work week.
Peters Township 2, Pittsburgh Central Catholic 1 (boys soccer)
Central Catholic dominated WPIAL Class AAA soccer throughout the regular season, and the Vikings received the No. 1 seed in the postseason. Peters Township was seeded fifth, mostly because of a three-game slid to end the regular season. Yet, come playoff time, the Indians had advanced to the semifinals, where it faced the favorite at Baldwin High School. PCC led 1-0 until Matt Venanzi, who will play at Pitt this fall, collected a throw-in just in front of net and scored with 1.1 seconds remaining in regulation. Peters Township celebrated wildly, but the game was far from over. Neither team scored during overtime, and the Indians won a shootout when goalie Chris Gagianis made a key save on Teddy Larkin.
Peters Township 1, Pennsbury 0 (girls soccer)
The Indians have always had talent, and the 2011 team was no exception. For Peters Township to repeat as PIAA Class AAA champions, it needed more than talent. The situation called for grit. Turns out the Indians have plenty. After Veronica Latsko fought off three Pennsbury defenders to score the lone goal of the championship match in the first half, the Peters Township defense dug in and kept a high-scoring offense from denting the scoreboard. Goalie Megan Parker made four saves and several outstanding plays in the shutout.
Ringgold 42, Greensburg-Salem 41 (football)
The only regular-season game to make the list, and rightfully so. Several seniors made enough plays in this game alone to fill a highlight reel, and the momentum swings were wild. For Ringgold, Quad Law rushed for 188 yards and passed for 110. Dom Affinito rushed for 126. Alfon Cook scored on a run following a lateral which defied description. Greensburg-Salem twice led by 14 points and Ringgold held a late 14-point lead, but the game would not be settled until a GS two-point attempt with 13 seconds remaining fell incomplete.