What’s Life Without Goals?
USC Inline State Wars 16AAA gold medalists, left to right: Matt Hurst, Jacob Bernstein, Lucas Manalo, Nick Oprison
“Shoot!” Coach Bernstein shouts from the bench as the Upper St. Clair M1 Inline team plays in the championship game against Penn Trafford (PT). Even though the Panthers maintained the lead most of the game thanks to Caleb Guarino’s hat trick, PT came back scoring three goals in three minutes, followed
by another in the third period to tie the game! Then, with seven minutes left, Jeffrey Hurst caught the pass from Isaac Bernstein and found nothing but net! USC Panthers win in a nail bitter with a 5–4 victory to become Middle School Tier 1 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Roller Hockey League (PIRHL) champions! This is the first time USC has won the M1 division title. Players Caleb Guarino, Claire Manalo, Nick Contis, Jeffry Hurst, and Cohen Marx all finished in the top 11 in scoring, led by Isaac Bernstein finishing the season with 134 points—the highest ever in a single season per PIRHL’s website. Everyone contributed to this win, including Jack Bavaro taking charge in defense and, of course, the star of the show, goalie Ian Vaughn. USC Inline celebrated its tenth year anniversary last season. Started by Gary Paul when his son was interested in playing roller hockey, he formed the USC Inline team that went on to win the championship in its first ever year for the elementary division. Many of those kids and parents continued with the program through high school graduation and some, like Mike Smith, Jr. who was on the inaugural team, continued to play in college. As an organization, the kids always come first. The focus is on family, especially since several families have multiple kids who play for USC Inline. Almost half of the organization is made up of siblings. Out of the nine players on the Varsity 1 team, all but two have, or have had, siblings play for USC Inline. Like Steven Smith, a senior, who learned to play from his dad and older brother. On the M1 team, five of the eight players also have family members currently playing for the organization.
Varsity 1 champions, front row: coach Gary Paul, Alex Contis, Nate Paul, Nick Oprison, Matt Hurst, Lucas Manalo, Ben Bonasso, coach Mike Smith, coach Joe Bonasso; back row: Evan Thurston, Steven Smith, Kolten Keller 78
UPPER ST. CLAIR TODAY
The Smith family, under coach Mike Smith, Sr., has been part of the organization since its inception in 2008. And what a more fitting farewell to coach Smith for his time and tenure over the years than winning the championship for the Varsity 1 team and first ever USC win in the highest division of PIRHL! With a mix of kids who have played together since elementary school, including Steven Smith, Kolten Keller, Evan Thurston, Ben Bonasso, Alex Contis, Nate Paul, Lucas Manalo, Matt Hurst, Dev Patel, and goalie Nick Oprison, they earned every bit of their success. With only two minutes and 49 seconds left in the game and Pine Richland (PR) trailing 3–2, they pulled the goalie to increase their forwards by one, in hopes to tie the game. Just then, USC’s forward, Matt Hurst, scored again sealing the 4–2 win over PR by taking the first two in the best of a three-game series. After an up-and-down regular season, the varsity team dominated in the playoffs to become PIRHL Varsity 1 champions! USC Inline is proud to have such a high level of talent within its organization. Several of the players have been selected to represent Team Pennsylvania in inline hockey’s greatest event: State Wars Hockey. Teams from the U.S., Canada, and other countries from around the world compete at this event for the highest honor. Last summer, players Matt Hurst, Jacob Bernstein, Lucas Manalo, and goalie Nick Oprison won the gold medal for Team Pennsylvania’s 16 AAA division. Bernstein, Manalo, and Oprison also competed and won silver in 2018. Team Pennsylvania also brought home the bronze medal last summer for the 14A division, thanks to USC Inline players Isaac Bernstein, Claire Manalo, and Alex
M1 PIRHL champions, front row: coach Eric Bernstein, Nick Contis, Jack Bavaro, Ian Vaughn, Caleb Guarino, Claire Manalo, coach Ben Morr; back row: Cohen Marx, Jeffry Hurst, Isaac Bernstein, coach Matt Guarino