2021 WPIAL boys soccer preview: Rankings, contenders, players to watch

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Sunday, August 29, 2021 | 8:56 PM


WPIAL boys soccer preview

Class 4A

Defending champion: Defensively-sound Seneca Valley won 14 straight games to close out the 2020 season en route to WPIAL and PIAA titles. The Raiders must replace standouts Zack LaValle and Mason Baldwin, but bring back junior Beaux Lizewski, another All-WPIAL selection. George Williams was the state coach of the year.

Contenders: Peters Township could be the favorite to win it all behind state player of the year Andrew Masucci, a senior forward who had 19 goals and eight assists for the WPIAL runner-up Indians. … Semifinalist Norwin is primed for another run behind seniors Caleb Yuricha and Riley Zimmerman. … Senior Landon Mohney powers Butler, while junior Ashton Schutzman leads Fox Chapel.

Don’t sleep on: Canon-McMillan must replace Joey Fonagy but the Big Macs were mostly a young team in 2020.

Class 3A

Defending champion: Mars, which won WPIAL and PIAA championships and finished 21-0, only lost eight seniors, but one of them was Trib HSSN player of the year Dane Beller. The Fightin Planets did not allow a goal until their 11th game of 2020. They went on to dethrone two-time defending champion Franklin Regional.

Contenders: West Allegheny is loaded with talent. The Indians have reached the WPIAL final in three of the past four years but have yet to break through for their first WPIAL title since 2013. They did, however, win a PIAA title three years ago. Seniors Keegan Amos and Johnny Dragisich are a dangerous scoring combo. … Anthony DiFalco returns for his senior season at Franklin Regional. A 35-goal scorer last season, he has helped the Panthers to two WPIAL titles and a runner-up during his career. Junior Colton Hudson also gives the Panthers some added punch. … Plum is lurking in Section 4. Keep an eye on Aldair Flowers. … Moon returns senior Severin Dengel and junior Ryan Kopay.

Don’t sleep on: Hampton was a No. 8 seed last season and took rival Mars to two overtimes in the quarterfinals.

Class 2A

Defending champion: Deer Lakes powered its way to the title behind state player of the year Michael Sullivan and Devin Murray, but the Lancers must reload.

Contenders: Shady Side Academy, which finished one win better than Deer Lakes in Section 2, has the look of a winner again. The newly-named Bulldogs bring back seniors Sam Farner and Joe Anania as key scoring threats. … Nine seniors are gone at Elizabeth Forward, but state coach of the year Doug Finke still has talent in the lineup. … Quaker Valley had to pull out of the WPIAL playoffs over covid concerns, but the Quakers have senior Blaise Burns and Rowan Kriebel back and could challenge for the title.

Don’t sleep on: Charleroi. The Cougars feature one of the state’s top goal scorers in senior Eben McIntyre.

Class A

Defending champion: Greensburg Central Catholic is poised to make a run at a repeat behind new coach Rob Fabean. The Centurions, the state runners-up, have most of their firepower back in junior Carlo Denis and senior Mason Fabean. Goalkeeper Max House also returns for his senior season.

Contenders: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart has most of its starting lineup back after winning Section 1. … Seton LaSalle was a section champion with a young lineup. … Winchester Thurston will look to reload after falling in the WPIAL finals. The Bears are no longer in the same section as rival GCC.

Don’t sleep on: A postseason contender of late, Springdale has Chris Mitchell back after a semifinal run.

Rankings

Class 4A

1. Peters Township (13-2-1)

2. Seneca Valley (17-1-1)

3. Norwin (11-1-2)

4. Butler (11-6-1)

5. Fox Chapel (11-4)

Class 3A

1. West Allegheny (15-2)

2. Franklin Regional (13-2)

3. Mars (21-0)

4. Moon (12-4)

5. Plum (13-2)

Class 2A

1. Shady Side Academy (14-3)

2. Quaker Valley (11-1-1)

3. Deer Lakes (17-2)

4. Elizabeth Forward (12-3-2)

5. Charleroi (14-2)

Class A

1. Greensburg C.C. (17-2)

2. Seton LaSalle (12-3)

3. OLSH (11-1-1)

4. Winchester Thurston (14-2)

5. Springdale (12-2)

Players to watch

Mark Accamondo, Sr., Brentwood

Keegan Amos, Sr., West Allegheny

Joe Anania, Sr., Shady Side Academy

John Bence, So., Aquinas Academy

Bob Bootay, Sr., Seton LaSalle

Blaise Burns, Sr., Quaker Valley

Nick Cherry, So., Seton LaSalle

Carlo Denis, Jr., Greensburg Central Catholic

Anthony DiFalco, Sr., Franklin Regional

Johnny Dragisich, Sr., West Allegheny

Mason Fabean, Sr., Greensburg Central Catholic

Sam Farner, Sr., Shady Side Academy

Will Gruca, Jr., Ambridge

Alex Hauskrecht, Sr., Winchester Thurston

Colton Hudson, Jr., Franklin Regional

Luke Kolankowski, Sr., Plum

Rowan Kriebel, Sr., Quaker Valley

Andrew Massucci, Sr., Peters Township

Eben McIntyre, Sr., Charleroi

Owen McDermott, Jr., Leechburg

Chris Mitchell, Jr., Springdale

Landon Mohney, Sr., Butler

Daniel Sassak, Sr., Belle Vernon

Nathan Schlessinger, Sr., Penn-Trafford

Ashton Schutzman, Sr., Fox Chapel

Landon Urcho, Jr., Bentworth

Jared Waggett, Sr., Chartiers Houston

Gabe Viszlay, Sr., Hampton

Caleb Yuricha, Sr., Norwin

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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