Breaking Down PIAA Soccer Finals: Four WPIAL Teams Going For State Titles

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Jorge Olan (#8) and Seneca Valley boys soccer team will be looking for their first-ever PIAA title on Saturday. (photo courtesy of Christopher Horner, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

The PIAA Soccer Championships will feature four WPIAL teams:  Seneca Valley, South Park and Sewickely Academy boys and the Upper St. Clair girls.

Before we look at the game previews, here are a few things you may want to be aware of about the PIAA Soccer final going into this weekend’s action:

WHAT REGION RULES THE KEYSTONE STATE?  THE WPIAL THAT’S WHO…

Believe it or not, Western PA (District 7) is the district with the most PIAA soccer titles since 2010.  Here’s the breakdown with all of the recent WPIAL Champs listed :

District 7 (WPIAL) – 12

  • 2010 – Hampton (AA Boys), Peters Twp (AAA Boys)
  • 2011 – Peters Twp (AAA Girls)
  • 2012 – Upper St. Clair (AAA Boys), Peters Twp (AAA Girls), Moon (AA Girls), Greensburg CC (Class A Girls)
  • 2013 – Upper St. Clair (AAA Boys), Central Valley (AA Girls)
  • 2014 – Peters Twp (AAA Boys)

District 1 (Suburban Philadelphia) – 8

District 3 (Harrisburg/Central PA) –

District 4 (North Central PA) –

District 11 (East/Lehigh Valley) – 1

NO DUEL CHAMPS  

Of the four teams from Western PA that have made it to the PIAA finals this weekend, none of them won the WPIAL and only one, Upper St. Clair’s girls, played in the WPIAL Finals (lost 3-0 to Norwin).   It makes you wonder that extra time between the WPIAL 3rd place/PIAA play-in games (usually Wednesday night prior to WPIAL finals) and the first round PIAA games the following Tuesday, helps the third (and fourth) place teams.

The three boys teams were the top-seeds in their respective classifications in the WPIAL, but fell before reaching the finals.   Ask many coaches, sometimes that one loss is the best thing that can happen to a team.

HISTORY — WPIAL Schools in PIAA Finals

Sewickley Academy and South Park have been here numerous times before, but Seneca Valley boys have never made it to the PIAA Finals.

Sewickley has the most history of the WPIAL teams.  The Panthers won it in 1997, 2007 and most recently in 2013, with seven appearances.  They are playing in their fourth-straight PIAA title game.

After finishing runner-up in 2004, South Park were state champs in 2005 and 2006.

Upper St. Clair girls made it to the PIAA finals in 1994, losing to Great Valley, 2-1.

CENTRAL BUCKS EAST LOOKING FOR DOUBLE UNBEATEN SEASONS 

If you look at the school that can really claim soccer dominance this year, it’s Central Bucks East, who have both boys and girls Class AAA teams positioned to win PIAA titles with undefeated seasons.

Seneca’s boys and Upper St. Clair’s girls stand in their way.

The Upper St. Clair girls have already beaten one undefeated team, Norwin, who were 24-0 prior to their loss on Tuesday in the PIAA semifinals.  Like Norwin, CBE are a stingy defensive unit, having conceded only 12 goals all season.

GOING THE DISTANCE

Sewickley have gone the distance in their last two games, and then on to win penalty kick shootouts against District 6 and 10 champs.  The Panthers survived a 10-kick shootout (7-6) on Tuesday to outlast Bishop McCort.

BROADCAST 

All games will be aired on PCN Sports Network.  You can also get the live streams to the games on your devices on Google Play and through the Apple Store.

In Pittsburgh area, PCN Sports Network can be found on Verizon FIOS and Comcast.  It is not available on Dish Network or DirectTV.

COMPLETE GAME PREVIEWS:
Courtesy Bill Hartlep, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

CLASS AAA BOYS

Seneca Valley vs. Central Bucks East

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium

Records: SV: 18-2-1; CBE: 25-0

How they got here: WPIAL third-place finisher Seneca Valley defeated D-6 champ State College, 5-1; def. WPIAL champion Canon-McMillan, 1-0; and def. D-1 fourth-place finisher Springfield Delco, 1-0 in overtime. District 1 champion CBE def. D-3 fourth-place Hershey, 2-0; def. D-3 third-place finisher Cumberland Valley, 4-1; def. D-1 runner-up Conestoga, 2-1.

Notable: Seneca Valley has allowed just one goal in the tournament. Griffin Mathew scored in overtime on a cross from Matt Saluga in the semifinals. The pair are among the Raiders’ scoring leaders this season. Central Bucks East lost in the 2010 title game, its only appearance. The Patriots, led by keeper Austin Prime, have 25 seniors on their roster. Junior Edgar Mauge scored both goals in the semifinals. CBE is the top-ranked team in the state by the Pa. Soccer Coaches Association.

CLASS AA Boys

South Park vs. Lewisburg

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium

Records: SP: 21-2-1; L: 24-0

How they got here: WPIAL third-place finisher South Park def. D-10 champ Harbor Creek, 4-1; def. WPIAL runner-up Mars, 2-0; def. D-3 third-place finisher Susquehannock, 4-2. District 4 champ Lewisburg def. D-2 champ Crestwood, 3-0; def. D-3 champ Lancaster Mennonite, 2-0; def. D-11 Northwestern Lehigh, 3-0.

Notable: South Park is led by Christian Payne (24 goals), Mitch Roell (18 goals) and keeper Ted Cecotti (11 shutouts). Lewisburg won in its only title-game trip in 2000, beating Sewickley Academy in Class A. Joey Bhangdia scored twice in the semifinals. Keeper Logan Cho has 60 career shutouts, a PIAA record.

CLASS A BOYS

Sewickley Academy vs. East Juniata

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium

Records: SA: 21-3; EJ: 21-4

How they got here: WPIAL third-place finisher Sewickley Academy def. D-9 champ Karns City, 5-0; def. D-10 champ Mercyhurst Prep, 4-3 (SO); def. D-6 champ Bishop McCort, 2-1 (SO). District 4 runner-up East Juniata def. D-3 champ Tulpehocken, 3-0; def. D-11 champ Moravian Academy, 3-0; def. D-3 runner-up Camp Hill, 1-0.

Notable:  Senior Matt Teitelbaum has 44 goals and Justin Pryor and Mike Napoleone each have 12. Freshman Alex Gordon scored in the 10th round of penalty kicks to secure the semifinal win. Senior keeper Jackson O’Neill is a three-year starter. East Juniata is making its first title game trip. Jake Sankey has 44 goals, and Trevor Goodling has 31.

CLASS AAA GIRLS

Upper St. Clair vs. Central Bucks East

When: 4 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium

Records: USC: 19-2-1; CBE: 17-0-1

How they got here: WPIAL runner-up Upper St. Clair def. D-10 champ McDowell, 3-0; def. D-1 fifth-place finisher Central Bucks South, 2-1; def. WPIAL champ Norwin, 2-1. District 1 champion Central Bucks East def. D-3 third-place finisher Cedar Cliff, 1-0; def. D-1 third-place finisher Council Rock North, 2-0; def. D-3 runner-up Cumberland Valley, 2-0.

Notable:  The Panthers are led by senior Johns Hopkins recruit Maddy Rocks (24 goals) and Penn State recruit Emma Hasco (17 goals). Five freshmen contribute for USC, including forward Landy Mertz and keeper Nikki Gibbons.

CBE, making its first title game appearance, has allowed just 12 goals and posted five straight shutouts.

 

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