PREVIEW: #WPIAL Girls 3A Final – Neighbors. Section Rivals Moon/Montour Meet Again

moon-vs-montour
Moon and Montour have battled twice already this season, with Moon winning both times. (Photo courtesy Pgh Tribune-Review) 

Girls 3A WPIAL Final

#1 Moon (20-1) vs. #6 Montour (16-2-3)

Highmark Stadium, Friday, 6 p.m.

Live Broadcast – http://www.msasports.net

KEY STORYLINES

This is one of three WPIAL Finals featuring two teams from the same section.  Moon won the section title and Montour (16-2-3) was the runner-up.

Moon won both meetings, both close contests topping the Spartans, 2-1, Sept. 21 and 2-0 on Oct. 12.   The Tigers needed a late goal from its leading scorer Delaney Snyder with eight minutes left to secure the win, a section title, and a number one seed in the 3A playoffs.

Other than the two losses to Moon, Montour hasn’t lost this season. Moon’s lone loss came at Class 4A Seneca Valley, 3-0, Sept. 24.

Moon, under the coaching direction of Bill Pfeifer for the past 16 seasons, are seeking their second WPIAL title and first since 2004.  Despite losing in the WPIAL finals in 2012, the Tigers did win the PIAA Championship that year.

Montour surprised many in Class AA in 2014 by making an improbable run to win the WPIAL title — and with its second appearance in three years at Highmark Stadium, it appears that coach Lee Coughenour has established the Tartans program that has built a quality roster that is now a perennial title contender.

How they got here… 

  • MOON – beat Gateway 6-0, Thomas Jefferson 2-1, Ambridge 6-0
  • MONTOUR – beat Chartiers Valley 2-0, South Fayette 5-0, South Park 2-1

 

TACTICS, STRATEGIES & KEY PLAYERS

While we will be seeing Division I college caliber players in other girls classifications this weekend at Highmark Stadium, Moon features two at the top of its attack.

Setting the pace up front for the Tigers are junior Snyder, a Miami (Ohio) commit has scored 36 goals this season, and senior Emma Thomas, a Dayton commit has also scored 19 goals.  The due have led the Tigers scoring spree with 14 goals in three postseason games.

Montour is the lowest-seeded team to reach a WPIAL championship match this season. The deep playoff run should come as no surprise considering what the Spartans have done this season.

Both teams feature lots of skilled players, and each like to possess the ball, keys to this game may come from which midfield can control possession.

Montour likes to look at itself as a team that doesn’t rely on one player.  They’ve thrived under the leadership to two seniors who’ve already won a WPIAL title, Olivia Muha and goalkeeper Maura Hickey. 

Muha’s playoff run includes a hat trick in a 5-0 quarterfinal win against South Fayette and a goal in the 2-1 semifinal victory against South Park.   Hickey has posted 13 shutouts in 21 games.

COVERAGE

I’ll be at Highmark Stadium tonight providing coverage of this game for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  You can follow in-game updates on twitter @Pghsoccerscribe

 

UP NEXT

Both teams have qualified for the PIAA (State) playoffs.   The first round games will be played Tuesday.   The winner will play either District 5 or 6 champion and the loser will play the District 8 or 9 champion.

 

 

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