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

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Sunday, August 29, 2021 | 9:01 PM


WPIAL girls soccer preview

Class 4A

Defending champion: With Sarah Schupansky and others gone, two-time defending champ North Allegheny will be a different team. But the Tigers only lost six players to graduation. Lucia Wells and Anna Bundy will keep the Tigers in the mix.

Contenders: Peters Township looks to have the most talented lineup in the classification with three All-WPIAL players in Jill Marvin, Brooke Opferman and CeCe Scott. … Butler was the WPIAL runner-up and took North Allegheny to two overtimes in the final. Chloe Weiland returns for the Golden Tornado. … Moon had a very young lineup that took it to the semifinals. … Seneca Valley did not have a senior on its roster last season. Coach Mark Perry could have a contender.

Don’t sleep on: Led by new coach Diane Metzger, perennial contender Norwin brings back Paloma Swankler and Emma Rigone.

Class 3A

Defending champion: Mars ripped through another WPIAL season, running its unbeaten streak to 41 games. The two-time defending WPIAL and PIAA champions’ streak dates to 2018. Replacing standout Ellie Coffield will be a challenge, but the Fightin Planets still have skilled players, including junior midfielder Leana Cuzzocrea.

Contenders: Runner-up Plum, the Section 3 champion, has some talent to replace, but brings back junior Kaitlyin Killinger. Last year’s roster was inundated with underclass girls. … West Allegheny was another semifinalist that has hopes of again contending. … Montour, another semifinal team as a No. 13 seed, only lost four seniors. … Sydney Lindeman and Sydney Kranick return to lead Franklin Regional, which returns nine starters. … Connellsville didn’t lose until the playoffs.

Don’t sleep on: Hampton. The Talbots won Section 1 and have senior Ava France and sophomore Madison Hurst to throw at opponents.

Class 2A

Defending champion: Another team looking for a three-peat is North Catholic, which held off Avonworth in a 1-0 nail-biter to repeat. The Trojanettes should continue to fill the net with senior Jayden Sharpless back. Senior defender Lindsay Pawlawski is another key returnee.

Contenders: Junior Ava Wirt powers Avonworth, which has to replace only four seniors it lost to graduation. … Juniors Olivia Cernuto and Kendall Fabery should have Southmoreland in the postseason conversation. The upstart Scotties made the quarterfinals last year. … South Park was the No. 1 seed but was upset by Yough. The Eagles posted 12 shutouts in 14 games. They bring back key seniors Ali Miklos and Maya Wertelet. … Junior Gabby Hill-Junke will look to ignite the offense for Shady Side Academy, which didn’t lose until the semifinals after moving up from Class A. … Brownsville standout Tessa Dellarose, a senior who had 33 goals last season, decided not to play for the high school team this season.

Don’t sleep on: Yough overachieved as a No. 9 seed, reaching the semifinals again. Junior McKenzie Pritts is a scoring threat from anywhere on the pitch.

Class A

Defending champion: Greensburg Central Catholic will continue to pack offensive punch with three top goal scorers back in seniors Tatum Gretz and Bethany Winnor, and junior Sara Felder. The Centurions, who scored in waves last season, also were the state runners-up.

Contenders: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart reached the WPIAL final as a No. 6 seed and can lean on experienced players in senior Kennedy Walsh and sophomore Alexa Taylor. … The team to beat could be Steel Valley, a section champion whose lone loss last season came against OLSH in the semifinals. Back for the Ironmen are key senior midfielders Soraya Gibbs and Kelsey Salopek. … Freedom features sisters Renae and Julia Mohrbacher, a senior and junior. … South Side made the semifinals as a No. 12 seed and was touched lightly by graduation.

Don’t sleep on: Bentworth has three All-WPIAL players returning — seniors Jasmine Manning and Maleena Rokicki and junior Reagan Schreiber.

Rankings

Class 4A

1. Peters Township (11-2-1)

2. North Allegheny (13-3)

3. Seneca Valley (8-4)

4. Moon (9-4-2)

5. Butler (11-2)

Class 3A

1. Mars (19-0)

2. Plum (16-1)

3. West Allegheny (11-4)

4. Franklin Regional (11-2-1)

5. Montour (10-7)

Class 2A

1. North Catholic (15-3-1)

2. Avonworth (14-2-1)

3. Southmoreland (13-2)

4. South Park (12-1-1)

5. Shady Side Academy (12-1)

Class A

1. Greensburg Central Catholic (18-1)

2. OLSH (12-3)

3. Steel Valley (14-1-1)

4. Freedom (12-3)

5. South Side (12-4)

Players to watch

Emily Bailey, Sr., South Side

Ashlyn Basinger, Jr., Waynesburg

Madeline Boulos, Sr., Deer Lakes

Ava Boyd, Jr., Pine-Richland

Olivia Cernuto, Jr., Southmoreland

Emma Check, Sr., Freeport

Alyssa Clutter, Sr., Trinity

Leana Cuzzocrea, Sr., Mars

Kendall Fabery, Jr., Southmoreland

Sara Felder, Jr., Greensburg Central Catholic

Ava France, Sr., Hampton

Soraya Gibbs, Sr., Steel Valley

Natalie Gilbert, Sr., Upper St. Clair

Elisa Gordon, Sr., Sewickley Academy

Tatum Gretz, Sr., Greensburg Central Catholic

Madison Hurst, So., Hampton

Gabby Hill-Junke, Sr., Shady Side Academy

Lilly Iadicicco, Sr., Springdale

Olivia Kamarec, Sr., Seneca Valley

Malia Kearns, Sr., Penn-Trafford

Kaitlyn Killinger, Jr., Plum

Sydney Kranick, Sr., Franklin Regional

Paige Kuisis, Jr., Seton LaSalle

Mary Lape, Sr., Connellsville

Jessica Molitoris, Sr., Montour

Sydney Lindeman, Sr., Franklin Regional

Jill Marvin, Sr., Peters Township

Ali Miklos, Sr., South Park

Julia Mohrbacher, Jr., Freedom

Renae Mohrbacher, Sr., Freedom

Brooke Opferman, Jr., Peters Township

Lindsay Pawlawski, Jr., North Catholic

McKenzie Pritts, Jr., Yough

Maleena Rokicki, Sr., Bentworth

Kelsey Salopek, Sr., Steel Valley

Reagan Schreiber, Jr., Bentworth

CeCe Scott, Sr., Peters Township

Jayden Sharpless, Sr., North Catholic

Ainsley Smith, Sr., Bishop Canevin

Paloma Swankler, Sr., Norwin

Alexa Taylor, So., OLSH

Kennedy Walsh, Sr., OLSH

Chloe Weiland, Sr., Butler

Lucia Wells, Jr., North Allegheny

Ava Wert, Sr., Avonworth

Maya Wertelet, Sr., South Park

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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