This week I did a few features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and the common theme with the two soccer programs, Elizabeth Forward girls and West Allegheny boys, was that they’re both programs that have been regular WPIAL playoff participants who are currently in danger of missing the playoffs.
And both coaches are dealing with challenges of having a lot of younger players in the starting lineups, and in the case of Elizabeth Forward, numerous injuries.
These are common themes for High School soccer programs, but also a sign of the times. We are no longer seeing the same teams, year-after-year, that are dominating the same sections. And that can only be a good thing.
In one instance, as the Trib’s Doug Gulasy points out, in Section 2-A, there are six teams in contention for four spots. Any one of the six can win the section.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Here are just a few of many interesting games of note as the race for Section Titles and playoff berths begin to heat up around the WPIAL:
TUES. OCT 6
Shady Side Academy at Mars — basically Mars can slam the door shut on another Section title with a win at home against their next closest competitor in Section 2-AA.
South Park at Belle Vernon – another AA game with playoff and section implications. South Park lost once already in section, and Belle Vernon could be a dangerous opponent.
Quaker Valley at South Fayette – the third AA grudge match — pitting the 1st and 2nd place teams in section 5-AA. With a win, South Fayette likely firms its grip on top ranking in their classification and a section title.
Wed. OCT 7
Pine Richland at North Allegheny – again, just like the boys side, these two are battling for playoff positioning and a possible Section 2-AAA title along with Seneca Valley.
Avonworth vs Seton LaSalle – this is a single-A match with playoff implications as Seton LaSalle is holding on to the top spot in Section 3-AA but Avonworth are lurking right there behind them.
Thurs. OCT 8
Peters Township at Upper St. Clair – hard to believe that neither one of these traditional top AAA teams is in first place in Section 5-AAA, but the winner can put pressure on front-running Canon-McMillan in the final week.
Pine Richland at North Allegheny – Pine Richland is fighting to stay in position for the final playoff spot in Section 2-AAA, as a win over 2nd place NA would help push them over. The Rams have been going to extra time, playing to four ties in section play already this season!
Serra Catholic vs Greensburg Central Catholic – GCC is almost always at the top of this section, but they have had a challenge from Serra Catholic this year. These two are currently tied the top of Section 1-A.