PREVIEWING WPIAL BOYS SOCCER SEMIFINALS

Thomas Jefferson boys will be looking to knock off #1 seed Mars in WPIAL Class AA semifinal on Monday.
Thomas Jefferson boys will be looking to knock off #1 seed Mars in WPIAL Class AA semifinal on Monday.

Class AAA BOYS 

Kiski Area vs Fox Chapel  8 p.m. at Penn Hills Linton Middle School

#3 Fox Chapel (16-1-1, 11-1, Section 3-AAA Champs)

How They Got here:   def Connellsville 3-0, def Franklin Regional 1-0

WPIAL:  Five-time Champions (1964, 1967, 1987, 1991, 1995)

Taking note:   The Foxes have used up to 18 to 20 players per game this year.  They have been a high-scoring team that has played better defensively as the season has gone on.

#14 Kiski Area (9-9-1, 6-5-1, third in Section 3-AAA)

How They Got here:   def North Allegheny 2-1, def Allderdice 1-0

Taking note:  The Cavs have waited until the playoffs to play their very best soccer.  They squeaked their way into the playoffs as the #14 seed, and pulled off upsets of North Allegheny and Allderdice.
Previous meetings:  These are two teams very familiar with each other. Fox Chapel beat Kiski 4-1 and 3-1 earlier this season in section play. The second game, 3-1 win for the Foxes was a one-goal game until very late.

 

Seneca Valley vs Canon McMillian  8 p.m. at North Allegheny

#5 Canon-McMillan (16-3, 14-2, Section 5-AAA Champs)

How They Got here:   def Bethel Park 2-1, def Penn Trafford 2-1

WPIAL:  Champions (2013)

Taking note:   Until losing to Upper St. Clair 4-0, on October 1, the Big Macs were the top-ranked team in WPIAL.  Since then, they have struggled a bit, but have pulled out two wins against tough playoff opponents, and Larry Fingers has his team battle-tested for a game where goals may be tough to come by against Seneca Valley.

#1 Seneca Valley (14-1-1, 10-1-1, Section 2-AAA Champs)

How They Got here:    First round-bye, def Central Catholic 3-0

Taking note:  While Seneca Valley girls have won their share of WPIAL titles, the boys side have come up short in their relatively short history at this level.  Much like the top-ranked girls team, Norwin, the Seneca boys are very stingy on defense, surrendering only 7 goals in 16 games.

CLASS AA BOYS 

South Fayette vs South Park 8 p.m. at Canon-McMillan

South Fayette (16-3, 11-1 Section 5-AA Champs)

How They Got here:  def Shady Side Academy 3-0, def McGuffey 3-0

Taking note:  This is the fourth year in a row that South Fayette have made it to the semifinals, and as noted below, the fourth year they will see South Park in the playoffs.

South Park (18-1-1, 13-1, Section 3-AA)

WPIAL:  Three-time Champions (2005, 2006, 2014)

How They Got here:   def Freeport 5-1, def Ambridge 3-2

Taking note:   South Park is the Class AA defending champion and is making its sixth semifinal appearance in seven years.   They were pushed a bit in the quarterfinals, having to fight off a difficult challenge from Ambridge.

Previous meetings:  Familiarity breeds contempt.  Or maybe in this case, mutual respect. It’s important to note that these two teams will now have played each other in the playoffs the last four years.  Last season, South Park edged South Fayette, 2-0, in the semifinals. A season earlier, South Fayette beat South Park, 1-0, in the semifinals before losing to West Allegheny in the championship. In 2012, South Fayette earned a 1-0 shootout win against South Park in the quarterfinals

Thomas Jefferson vs Mars 8 p.m. at Moon

Thomas Jefferson (18-1-1, 10-1-1, Section 3-AA runner-up)

WPIAL:  Three-time Champions (2000, 2001 and 2004)

How They Got here:  def Central Valley 5-2, def Ringgold 1-0

Taking note:   Even though they dominated competition by outscoring opponents 62-12 during the season, the Jaguars ended up second in Section 3-AA, as they split the season series with South Park. They’ve been rolling into the playoffs, continuing on a 17-game unbeaten streak.

Mars (17-2-1, 12-0, Section 4-AA Champs)

How They Got here:   def Quaker Valley 3-2 (OT), def Montour 4-3

Taking note:   Despite a strong regular season to earn a number one seed, the Planets have been living dangerously in the playoffs.  They needed overtime to beat 15 seed Quaker Valley. Then had an incredible come-from-behind win to beat Montour. The Planets trailed Montour, 3-0, with 28 minutes left in the second half, but got goals from Andrew Diefenbacher, Caleb Brake and Cory Ferguson within an 18-minute span to force overtime. Ten minutes into the extra period, Spencer Hnath scored the decisive goal. Diefenbacher leads the team with 16 goals.

CLASS A BOYS 

Sewickley Academy vs Avonworth  8 p.m at Chartiers Valley

Sewickley Academy (16-2, 12-0, Section 5-A Champs)

WPIAL: Seven-time Champions (AA-1998, A-1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2013)

How They Got here:   First Round – Bye, def Vincentian 2-1

Taking note:  a perennial WPIAL Class A championship contender, Sewickley remain the team to beat in Class A.  Their only losses have come against teams in higher classifications (Peters Township and West Allegheny), but were challenged after a first round playoff bye, as they beat Vincentian, 1-0.

Avonworth (8-3-1, 14-3-3, Section 3-A Runner up)

How They Got here:  def Charleroi 8-0, def Bishop Canevin 2-0

Taking note: Last year, Winchester Thurston were the surprise team in Class A, winning the WPIALs.  Could Avonworth be that team this year?   Vincentian played Sewickley tough, and it appears that Avonworth is playing very well right now as they’ve rolled up 10 goals in the first two games of the playoffs.  Their only loss since mid-September was a 2-1 defeat against Seton LaSalle, another semifinalist who they returned the favor to beat 2-1 in October.

Seton LaSalle vs Greensburg CC  8 p.m. at Peters Township

Seton LaSalle (15-5, 10-2, Section 3-A Champs)

WPIAL:  Five-time Champions (2002, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011)

How They Got here:   def Aquanis 2-1, def OLSH 3-2

Taking note:  Much like Sewickley Academy, Seton-LaSalle are in a very familiar place being in the semifinals.  It also seems as if a 6-0 loss to top seeded Sewickley in early October, has motivated them to a six-game winning streak that has them on the precipice of making another WPIAL final, where they haven’t been since 2010-11.

Greensburg CC (15-2, 9-1, Section 1-A Champs)

WPIAL: Three-time Champions (2003, 2004, 2009)

How They Got here:  def Monessen 7-1, def Bentworth 3-1

Taking note:   While they have not played as difficult of a schedule as Seton LaSalle or Sewickley, GCC are right there in the mix again.  They’re pretty strong defensively, giving up only 12 goals in 17 games this season, and in their current eight-game winning streak, they have outscored opponents 44-3 .

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