2022 WPIAL girls soccer preview: Rankings, contenders, players to watch

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Monday, August 22, 2022 | 2:04 PM


WPIAL girls soccer preview

Class 4A

Defending champion: Moon powered its way to WPIAL and PIAA titles and finished with a 20-1-1 record. But the Tigers moved to Class 3A so there will be a new 4A champion. The classification now has two sections and just 16 teams.

Contenders: Peters Township, a semifinalist, has Irene Doleno and Brooke Opferman back. … Another final four team, Fox Chapel, isn’t short on firepower with Makayla Mulholland, Kate Friday and Anna Troutman in the lineup. … North Allegheny features Lucia Wells, a Pitt commit, along with Sophia Palermo and Abigail Stager (Kentucky). … Seneca Valley made the WPIAL final and was hit hard by graduation, but has Chloe Leonard (Charlotte) and Virginia Fronk (George Mason). Raiders coach Mark Perry begins his 36th year of coaching.

Don’t sleep on: Butler was a playoff team and has Sam Miller back for more. … Mt. Lebanon returns four all-section players in Leah Kessler, Ava Dziubek, Grace Nellas and Melia Peer. … Although still developing scorers, Norwin is always in the mix. … Pine-Richland is hiding in the shadows led by St. John’s commit Stephanie Cornelius.

Rankings: 1. Peters Township (11-4-3); 2. North Allegheny (16-1-1); 3. Fox Chapel (10-8-1); 4. Seneca Valley (16-5-2); 5. Mt. Lebanon (9-7-2)

Players to watch: Julia Bursick, So., MF, Norwin; Eva Blatz, Sr., MF, Bethel Park; Reagan Casper, Sr., MF, Norwin; Riley Cerqua, Sr., MF, North Allegheny; Stephanie Cornelius, Sr., MF, Pine-Richland; Virginia Fronk, Sr., GK, Seneca Valley; Chloe Leonard, Sr., MF, Seneca Valley; Sam Miller, Sr., F, Butler; Makayla Mulholland, Sr., MF, Fox Chapel; Grace Nellas, Sr., MF, Mt. Lebanon; Brooke Opferman, Sr., MF, Peters Township; Sophia Palermo, Sr., MF, North Allegheny; Melia Peer, Sr., F, Mt. Lebanon; Lucia Wells, Sr., F, North Allegheny


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2022 WPIAL boys soccer preview: Rankings, contenders, players to watch


Class 3A

Defending champion: Three-time defending champion Mars has been the class of 3A and there is no reason to think the Fightin Planets won’t stay among the state’s elite. They have not lost in 63 straight games. Piper Coffield (Indiana), Reese Dunaway (St. John’s), Gwen Howell (Richmond) and Ava Lewis (William & Mary) lead another talented group.

Contenders: A number of teams pose a threat to returning state champion Mars, including Moon, the WPIAL 4A champion that drops to 3A. The Tigers feature midfielder Hailey Longwell, as well as other key starters in Kayla Leseck and Eva Molnar. … Plum lost 2-1 to Mars in the WPIAL final and made the state semis. The Mustangs feature Kaitlyn Killinger and Kaley Simqu, All-WPIAL players. … Latrobe was a contender in 4A last year but the upstart Wildcats will push for a 3A title behind Maryland commit Eva Bulava, James Madison commit Sofia DeCerb, Regan Reilly (Bowling Green) and others. … South Fayette and Montour made the semifinals. Montour has three key seniors back in Eliana Davin, Saveria Ulizzi and Ashley Vith. … Franklin Regional could be dangerous in front of goalie Aria Lamanna.

Don’t sleep on: Thomas Jefferson. The Jaguars have experience with Natalie Lamenza, Jordan Sinclair, Olivia Supp, Bella Vozar and Olivia Della Lucia returning. … Trinity could also be a factor. … Penn-Trafford and Elizabeth Forward also are new to 3A. Elizabeth Forward features some young talent in Olivia Kristen, Giovanna Ferraro, Abby Beilich and Brooklyn Baldensperger.

Rankings: 1. Mars (20-0-1); 2. Moon (20-1-1); 3. Plum (21-3-1); 4. Latrobe (13-2-1); 5. Montour (16-8)

Players to watch: Abby Beinlich, Jr., MF, Elizabeth Forward; Leah Brockett, Jr., MF, Franklin Regional; Ella Bulava, Sr., MF, Latrobe; Piper Coffield, Sr., D, Mars; Sofia DeCerb, Sr., GK, Latrobe; Reese Dunaway, Sr., MF, Mars; Delaney Evers, Sr., MF, West Allegheny; Gabi Folino, Jr., MF, Oakland Catholic; Gwen Howell, Sr., D, Mars; Madison Hurst, Sr., MF, Hampton; Madi Jesih, Sr., MF, Gateway; Kaitlyn Killinger, Sr., F, Plum; Aris Lamanna, Jr., GK, Franklin Regional; Kayla Leseck, Sr., MF, Moon; Hailey Longwell, Sr., MF, Moon; Mia Lowery, Sr., MF, Oakland Catholic; Payton O’Malley, Jr., GK, Chartiers Valley; Ruby Morgan, Jr., GK, Trinity; Farrah Reader, Sr., MF, Belle Vernon; Mylea Riggle, Jr., MF, Armstrong; Kaley Simqu, Sr., D, Plum; Saveria Ulizzi, Sr., F, Montour; Bella Vozar, Sr., D, Thomas Jefferson

Class 2A

Defending champion: Avonworth. With several key players back from the team that knocked off two-time defending champion North Catholic, the Antelopes again look like the team to beat here. Tess Pappas, Minah Syam, Gianna Babusci and Fiona Mahan lead an experienced lineup. Avonworth also finished second in the state.

Contenders: North Catholic won’t have Jayden Sharpless for the first time in years, but Lauren MacDonald, a Rhode Island commit, and Rylee Kumer will look to pick up the slack. … Southmoreland could be primed to get over the top after reaching the semifinals. Olivia Cernuto is one of the top scorers in the WPIAL, while Kendall Fabery is a Cleveland State recruit. … Caroline Liptak and Ainsley Chu are underclassmen but could put another semifinalist, Shady Side Academy, in the chase. … Mt. Pleasant has just about everybody back, including Marissa Garn and Rylin Bugosh.

Don’t sleep on: McKenzie Pritts and Kendalyn Umbel are a formidable one-two punch for Yough. … Anjo Pagbeleguem and Mia Modrovich are back after helping No. 13 Quaker Valley reach the quarterfinals. … Don’t dismiss South Park, which has several key returnees, including Cassondra O’Connor, Tori Latona, Jaycee Lingren and Alicia Riberich. … Central Valley, Knoch and Woodland Hills all dropped from 3A, while Apollo-Ridge and Ligonier Valley moved up from A.

Rankings: 1. Avonworth (19-4-1); 2. Southmoreland (15-3-2); 3. Mt. Pleasant (13-6); 4. North Catholic (19-3); 5. Shady Side Academy (12-3-1)

Players to watch: Emily Beck, Sr., MF, West Mifflin; Akina Boynton, Sr., MF, Freeport; Rylin Bugosh, So., F, Mt. Pleasant; Olivia Cernuto, Sr., MF, Southmoreland; Caroline Liptak, Jr., MF, Shady Side Academy; Kendall Fabery, Sr., D, Southmoreland; Marissa Garn, Sr., D, Mt. Pleasant; Rylee Kumer, Jr., GK, North Catholic; Fiona Mahan, So., MF, Avonworth; Sydney McCray, Sr., MF, Apollo-Ridge; Lauren McDonald, Sr., MF, North Catholic; Abigail Noah, Sr., D/MF, Beaver; Cassandra O’Connor, Sr., MF, South Park; Lauren McDonald, Sr., MF, North Catholic; Ava Miller, Sr., MF, Hopewell; Anjo Pagbeleguem, Sr., MF, Quaker Valley; Tess Pappas, Sr., MF, Avonworth; McKenzie Pritts, Sr., F, Yough; Macrina Robb, Jr., MF, Knoch; Minah Syam, Jr., MF, Avonworth; Kendalyn Umbel, So., MF, Yough

Class A

Defending champion: Steel Valley knocked off perennial power Greensburg Central Catholic, 2-1, in overtime to win its first girls soccer title. The Ironmen have a lot to replace, but can rely on Chelsea Bulger and Therese Doering for scoring now that star Kelsey Salopek is gone.

Contenders: Greensburg Central Catholic is a strong title contender led by Youngstown State commit Sara Felder and Riley Kerr. … Freedom and Springdale are returning semifinal teams and both have experienced lineups. Freedom returns Julia Mohrbacher and Shaye Bailey, while Springdale will look to Grace Gent, Addison Schussman and others. … Ashley Lippold and Josie Bochicchio are back for Bishop Canevin, while Chartiers-Houston can compete with Kayla Brose. … A trio of all-secton players lead Seton LaSalle in Kyla Cohagen, Michelle Defride and Paige Kuisis.

Don’t sleep on: Serra Catholic, South Side and Winchester Thurston were playoff teams and have restocked. … Waynesburg and South Allegheny dropped down from 2A.

Rankings: 1. Greensburg Central Catholic (18-3); 2. Steel Valley (20-4); 3. Freedom (16-6); 4. Springdale (18-3); 5. Bishop Canevin (15-1-1)

Players to watch: Lola Abraham, Jr., MF, Riverview; Emily Bailey, Sr., MF, South Side; Ashlyn Basinger, Sr., F, Waynesburg; Abi Boehning, Sr., GK, Mohawk; Kayla Brose, Sr., MF, Chartiers-Houston; Tessa Carpenter, Sr., MF, Bentworth; Lilly Carr, So., MF, Serra Catholic; Kyla Cohagen, Sr., GK, Seton LaSalle; Sara Felder, Sr., F, Greensburg C.C.; Grace Gent, Sr., F, Springdale; Riley Kerr, So., MF, Greensburg C.C.; Ashley Lippold, Sr., MF, Bishop Canevin; Julia Mohrbacher, Sr., F, Freedom; Alexa Taylor, Jr., MF, OLSH

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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