2023 WPIAL girls soccer preview: Rankings, contenders, players to watch

Tuesday, August 22, 2023 | 3:06 AM

WPIAL girls soccer preview

Class 4A

Defending champion: North Allegheny

Runner-up: Peters Township

Team to beat: North Allegheny brings back eight all-section players and should have some offensive pop as the Tigers chase their fourth title in five years.

Others to watch: Look for experienced Peters Township to chase down the Tigers for the top spot. … Upper St. Clair checked out in the quarterfinals but has plenty of talent to make a playoff push. … Mt. Lebanon and Seneca Valley made the semifinals but have voids to fill. … Don’t count out Fox Chapel, and you might want to mark Butler.

Top players: Lilly Bane, Jr., F, Canon-McMillan; Sierra Dupre, So., MF, Upper St. Clair; Libby Early, Sr., MF, North Allegheny; Natalie Figura, Sr., MF, North Allegheny; Kate Friday, Sr., MF, Fox Chapel; Kate Hillegas, Jr., F, North Hills; Mia Humphreys, Sr., GK, Seneca Valley; Camryn Klein, Jr., MF, Peters Township; Emerson Kline, So., MF, Pine-Richland; Molly Kubistek, So., GK, Peters Township; Jackie Massof, Sr., MF, Mt. Lebanon; Madison Miller, Jr.,D, North Allegheny; Ella Neupaver, Sr., MF, Peters Township; Ellie Shanholtzer, Jr., D, Upper St. Clair; Anna Snyder, Sr., MF, Upper St. Clair; Abigail Stager, Sr., F, North Allegheny; Anna Troutman, Sr., D, Fox Chapel; Lexi Tylenda, Sr., MF, Shaler; Ayla Ward, Sr., F, Seneca Valley; Leah Weiland, Sr., MF, Butler; Anisha Willis, Sr., MF, Allderdice

Rankings: 1. North Allegheny (21-2); 2. Peters Township (15-3); 3. Upper St. Clair (9-8); 4. Mt. Lebanon (16-3); 5. Seneca Valley (13-2-2)

Class 3A

Defending champion: Moon

Runner-up: Mars

Team to beat: Unbeaten Moon dethroned three-time defending Mars and went on to win the state title. The Tigers again have a talent-rich lineup that should take them a long way. They begin the season at No. 2 in the United States Soccer Coaches national rankings as they chase a third straight PIAA title. Moon is 36-0-1 in its last 37 games and has not lost since a 1-0 setback against Mt. Lebanon on Sept. 29, 2021. There are some strong contenders, though, in a very deep class.

Others to watch: Mars won’t go away quietly, but the Fightin’ Planets have some graduation losses to patch over. … Latrobe had one of the better top-to-bottom lineups in the WPIAL, but injuries to Ella Bulava and Robin Reilly have been a big setback. … Franklin Regional has a gifted keeper in Aris Lamanna, but can the Panthers produce enough goals to balance their defense? … Plum was in the semis but has a lot to replace. … Keep a close watch on Thomas Jefferson and Elizabeth Forward.

Top players: Brooklyn Baldensperger, Jr., F, Elizabeth Forward; Grace Bannon, Jr., F, Montour; Abigail Beinlich, Sr., MF, Elizabeth Forward; Kali Booker, Sr., D, Penn Hills; Kate Chiado, Sr., F, Laurel Highlands; Olivia Della Lucia, Jr., MF, Thomas Jefferson; Emily Doleno, Sr., GK, Ringgold; Sydney Felton, Sr., F, Moon; Giovanna Ferraro, Sr., F, Elizabeth Forward; Nico Folino, Jr., GK, Anna Fraps, Sr., D, South Fayette; Zoe Fries, Sr., F, Chartiers Valley; Oakland Catholic; Addison Girdwood, Sr., MF, Mars; Chloe Hart, Jr., F, West Allegheny; Madison Hurst, Sr., MF, Hampton; Sara Kenst, Jr., MF, Hampton; Camryn Kunz, Jr., MF, Kiski Area; Aris Lamanna, Sr., GK, Franklin Regional; Natalie Lamenza, Sr., F, Thomas Jefferson; Gabriella Larson, Sr., D, Moon; Serayah Leech, Sr., GK, Moon; Ella Martin, Sr., MF, Blackhawk; Kate McEnroe, Sr., GK, Mars; Marina Mollica, Sr., D, Moon; Rhiannon Molnar, Sr., D, Chartiers Valley; Ruby Morgan, Sr., GK, Trinity; Emily Oslosky, So., MF, Penn-Trafford; Abby Paterline, Jr., MF, Franklin Regional; Maddy Petruzzi, Jr., MF, Latrobe; Jocelyn Radcliffe, Sr., F, Laurel Highlands; Ainsley Ray, Sr., MF, Mars; Regan Reilly, Sr., MF, Latrobe; Robin Reilly, Jr., MF, Latrobe; Olivia Renk, Sr., F, South Fayette; Kataira Rhodes, Sr., MF, Belle Vernon; Mylea Riggle, Sr., MF, Armstrong; Sophie Scardina, So., F, Indiana; Jada Settles, Sr., GK, Gateway; Emma Tikey, Sr., F, Connellsville; Marin Torrens, Sr., D, Montour; Mia Valerio, Jr., F, Elizabeth Forward; Grace West, Jr., MF, Belle Vernon; Ava Weleski, Sr., MF, Plum; Elizabeth Wilson, Sr., MF, Ringgold

Rankings: 1. Moon (24-0); 2. Mars (19-2); 3. Latrobe (12-5-2); 4. Franklin Regional (11-6-2); 5. Plum (18-3)

Class 2A

Defending champion: Avonworth

Runner-up: Mt. Pleasant

Team to beat: With most of its offensive prowess returning, Avonworth is a favorite to win a third straight title. Fiona Mahan is a premier player in the WPIAL.

Others to watch: After reaching the finals, Mt. Pleasant remains hungry with a still-budding group that plays fast. … North Catholic has a loaded look again after winning back-to-back titles in 2019 and ‘20. … South Park must replace a half-dozen seniors from a semifinalist team. … Hopewell, which reached the quarterfinals as a No. 13 seed, only lost two seniors. … Shady Side Academy has a young but talented squad that could overachieve.

Top players: Gianna Babusci, Sr., F, Avonworth; Maddie Barrick, Jr., MF, Mt. Pleasant; Lilia Battalini, Jr., F, Beaver; Rylin Bugosh, Jr., F, Mt. Pleasant; Brooke Cacurak, So., D, Deer Lakes; Sydney Chontos, Jr., MF, Beaver; Ainsley Chu, Jr., MF, Shady Side Academy; Cooper Danforth, Jr., MF, Shady Side Academy; Brooke Galcik, Sr., F, Knoch; Morgan Gesinski, So., F, Mt. Pleasant; Riley Gesinski, Sr., MF, Mt. Pleasant; Andi Householder, Sr., MF, Burrell; Miley Kariotis, Jr., F, Burrell; Lily Karsman, Sr., MF, North Catholic; Gillian Kennedy, Sr., D, North Catholic; Brooke Kostyak, Sr., GK, Deer Lakes; Rylee Kumer, Sr., GK, North Catholic; Peyton Los, So., F, Freeport; Fiona Mahan, Jr., MF, Avonworth; Lucille McCargo, Jr., MF, Shady Side Academy; Kylie McCoy, Sr., F, Deer Lakes; Kayla McCullough, Sr., MF, Keystone Oaks; Lauren Mealie, Jr., D, North Catholic; Emily Mihelcic, Jr., D, South Park; Mia Modrovich, Jr., D, Quaker Valley; Sadie Navid, Sr., MF, Shady Side Academy; Maggie Nesko, Jr., MF, Burrell; Ella Van Norman, So., MF, Shady Side Academy; Maggie Piper, Sr., D, Mt. Pleasant; Emma Reyes, Sr., F, Woodland Hills; Macrina Robb, Sr. MF, Knoch; Laurel Rummel, So., GK, Mt. Pleasant; Eden Schleis, Sr., D, Avonworth; Simone Sharpless, So., MF, North Catholic; Brittany Schindler, Sr., MF, Deer Lakes; Minah Syam, Sr., MF, Avonworth; Taylor Vargo, Jr., F, South Park; Sophia Yard, Sr., F, Apollo-Ridge

Rankings: 1. Avonworth (19-4); 2. Mt. Pleasant (21-3); 3. North Catholic (16-3); 4. South Park (14-6); 5. Shady Side Academy (10-6)

Class A

Defending champion: Freedom

Runner-up: Springdale

Team to beat: Freedom has do-it-all forward Shaye Bailey back healthy from a basketball injury so the Bulldogs should remain a title chaser.

Others to watch: Roster turnover could affect Springdale, although the hard-nosed Dynamos do have some key players back. … Perennial contender Greensburg Central Catholic made the semifinals and lost in double-overtime to Freedom. … Most of Waynesburg’s lineup is back from a team that made the semis. … Winchester Thurston is reloaded and ready to make some noise after a semifinal loss to Waynesburg. … Charleroi had depth issues, but don’t discount the Cougars.

Top players: Lola Abraham, Sr., F, Riverview; Shaye Bailey, Sr., F, Freedom; Amelia Brose, So., F, Chartiers-Houston; Lilly Carr, Jr., MF, Serra Catholic; Bella Carroto, Sr., F, Charleroi; Maria Cicchino, Sr., MF, Bishop Canevin; Addison Conrad, Sr., GK, Charleroi; McKenna Deunger, Sr., MF, Charleroi; Maeve Dever, Jr., GK, Winchester Thurston; Therese Doering, Jr., MF, Steel Valley; Gabby Finch, Jr., MF, Riverside; Molly Hurley, Jr., F, Springdale; Riley Kerr, Jr., F, Greensburg Central Catholic; Natalie Kirsch, Jr., MF, Bishop Canevin; Emily Kisner, Sr., MF, Bentworth; Lake Litwinovich, Sr., MF, Waynesburg; Margherita Memoli, Jr., Winchester Thurston; Morgan Mosqueda, Sr., D, South Allegheny; Maria Ravotti, So., GK, Aquinas Academy; Lydia Reith, Sr., F, Serra Catholic; Briana Ross, Jr., F, Springdale; Samantha Saylor, Sr., MF, Monessen; Kali Shriver, Sr., D, Waynesburg; Meredith Snyder, Jr., F, Winchester Thurston; Alexa Taylor, Sr., MF, OLSH; Katherine Varghese, Jr., F, Sewickley Academy

Rankings: 1. Freedom (20-4); 2. Springdale (17-5); 3. Greensburg Central Catholic (16-5); 4. Waynesburg (16-5); 5. Winchester Thurston (9-1-1)

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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