The Mt. Lebanon boys soccer team realizes certain axioms are true as it embarks on the second-half of its Section 2-AAAA season.

For the Blue Devils, there indeed is no rest for the weary and this is no time to rest on their laurels.

After finishing the first-half of section play undefeated, the Blue Devils started the second half in much the same fashion.

Mt. Lebanon defeated Peters Township, but needed double overtime to post the 2-1 victory. Earlier in the year, Lebo had a 3-1 victory over the Indians.

“Peters Township was real organized. It was a total 180 from when we played them the first time but that happens the second time around,” said Lebo head coach Bill Perz. “The second half of section play is going to be exactly like this. We have to be on our game because teams will be coming after us for sure.”

Zach Nellas was on top of things when he planted the game winner into the net from 30 yards out to end the game in the second, 10-minute extra period.

“Zach showed great composure in the moment,” said Perz. “A lot of times you get your chance and you rush it, but he capitalized.”

After a scoreless first half, Giuseppe Croce capitalized on a second-half penalty kick to lift Lebo ito a 1-0 lead.

“Giuseppe is a confident kid,” Perz said. “As soon as the ref signaled the penalty, he grabbed the ball. You want a guy who wants the ball in that situation.”

Though he did not score in the contest, Danny Simboro handled the ball well in many situations.

The striker shortened the field for the Blue Devils with his long strides and deft passes. He also helped prolong Lebo’s attack in the offensive end.

“Even though he didn’t score, that was probably Danny’s best game,” Perz said. “When people come and watch him play, they notice how good he is with his feet. He held the ball up well for us. He passed well, too. He was very unselfish with his play.”

Unselfishness has played a critical role in Lebo’s success this season.

John Delvaux registered the decisive goals in Lebo’s back-to-back 3-2 overtime victories over Upper St. Clair and West Allegheny. His goal with 13 seconds left in the first, 10-minute overtime against the Panthers sealed Lebo’s unblemished first half of the section schedule.

In the win against USC, Simboro and Kieran McDonough also scored goals. Mitch Friday and Colin Sibley scored goals for the Panthers.

Whether it’s facing USC, Peters Township or Bethel Park, the Blue Devils are fixed on one objective.

“We are focused on whoever we are playing against,” Perz said. “We are singularly focused on one game at a time.”

Perz noted the Blue Devils have finally learned how to turn the tables on opponents. During his three previous seasons at the helm, Lebo has lost its share of games, particularly those that went beyond regulation.

“Our guys have been working toward this,” he said. “They have felt being on the other side of results like (USC and PT) and we have earned the right to be on the other side.

“We have been learning how to win and four guys who have not experienced that then that can be difficult. But, with every game and every tough game that we play in, they get a little bit more experience. Our guys are continuing to learn how to win.”

That’s a scary thought for Lebo’s opponents as the Blue Devils are already ranked No. 4 in the WPIAL in Class Quad-A. Within weeks, they will embark on playoff action and attempt to win a district title.

The Blue Devils are all in. That’s another reason why they have racked up an 8-1-1 overall record.

While Steven Vines in goal as well as central backs Mark Joseph and Nick Estabrook anchoring the defense, players like Thomas Taucher and Joseph Coutinho have taken advantage of their opportunities to assist in the midfield.

“Our defenders have done a great job and we are deep in that spot,” Perz said. “We have plenty of guys in there and the talent doesn’t drop off. They are all physical. Our back line is a strong suit for us.

“Guys like Thomas and Joseph also speak to the depth we have on our team,” Perz continued. “No. 8 waits for his name to be called and when it is, he does take advantage of it.

“Our success is a credit to our entire team and our entire program because even our JV guys are in the game the entire time. I want to give a big shout out to the entire program for being totally all in on this year.”

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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