A-K Valley WPIAL soccer playoff preview capsules: Games for Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023

Monday, October 23, 2023 | 9:29 PM

WPIAL soccer playoffs


Class A

First Round

16-Aquinas Academy (5-6-1) at 1-Riverview (16-2)

7 p.m. Tuesday

Winner plays: Winner of 9-Eden Christian (8-5-1) at 8-Chartiers Houston (13-3) Saturday in quarterfinals (site/time TBD)

Players to watch: Lola Abraham, Riverview; Abigail Stalder, Aquinas Academy

Throw-ins: Riverview is led by Abraham, and the Pitt commit owns 56 goals in 17 games. The Raiders, the Section 1 champion, captured their first outright section crown last Monday with a 3-2 win at Springdale. Riverview is in the playoffs for the third straight season after not being able to field a team in 2020 because of low numbers. The Raiders lost in the first round last year and in 2021. … Aquinas Academy is the smallest school in WPIAL girls soccer. The Crusaders are in only their fourth season as a program but have made the playoffs for the third year in a row. Before 2020, the Aquinas girls played in a co-op with Vincentian Academy. Stalder is a top scoring threat for the Crusaders, who finished fourth in Section 4 with a 4-5-1 mark.

Class A

First Round

11-Sewickley Academy (7-7) vs. 6-Springdale (12-3)

6 p.m. Tuesday at Freeport

Winner plays: Winner of 14-Riverside (4-8) at 3-Charleroi (14-2) Saturday in quarterfinals (site/time TBD)

Players to watch: Briana Ross, Springdale; Katherine Varghese, Sewickley Academy

Throw-ins: Tuesday’s game is a rematch of a first-round contest last year won by Springdale, 3-2. The then-No. 2 Dynamos led 3-0 before the Panthers made a late rally. … Springdale, in the playoffs for the seventh season in a row, made it all the way to the 2022 title game before falling to Freedom, 3-0. Ross, junior Molly Hurley and sophomore Hailey Marchlewski lead a potent Dynamos scoring attack. … Varghese, Quincy Sirko, and Libby Eannarino are scoring threats for a Panthers team that averaged 4.8 goals a game in the regular season. Sewickley went 3-1 down the stretch in Section 3 play to secure the section’s No. 3 position with a 6-4 record. The Panthers won WPIAL Class 2A titles in 1999 and from 2002 to 2004.

Class 2A

First Round

13-Beaver Area (8-6-1) at Freeport (14-1-1)

8 p.m. Tuesday

Winner plays: Winner of 12-Knoch (8-6-2) at 5-South Park (13-5) Saturday in quarterfinals (site/time TBD)

Players to watch: Camryn Woods, Freeport; Ana Hahn, Beaver Area

Throw-ins: Freeport captured its first Section 2-2A title since 2017 and won eight in a row after a 2-0 loss to Deer Lakes on Sept. 27. The Yellowjackets’ only other section blemish was a 2-2 tie against playoff-bound Knoch. Freeport is in the playoffs for the 11th year in a row. Freshman Woods leads the team with 29 goals, and junior Samantha Liput has 14 goals this season. … Beaver Area hopes to pull an upset and make a run in the tournament. The Bobcats have never won a WPIAL girls soccer championship. Beaver Area finished fourth in Section 1 behind No. 1 Avonworth, No. 2 North Catholic and No. 9 Quaker Valley. The Bobcats topped QV, 2-0, late in the regular season. Hahn is a top scorer for Beaver, which lost to top-seeded North Catholic in last year’s quarterfinals.

Class 2A

First Round

12-Knoch (8-6-2) at 5-South Park (13-5)

7 p.m. Tuesday

Winner plays: Winner of 13-Beaver (8-6-1) at 4-Freeport (14-1-1) Saturday in quarterfinals (site/time TBD)

Players to watch: Alicia Riberich, South Park; Macrina Robb, Knoch

Throw-ins: Knoch comes in battle tested after a rugged slate in Section 2. The Knights, the 2022 Section 2 champions, finished fourth (5-4-1) in the standings. Knoch hopes for a better first-round outcome after being upset as the No. 4 seed by Hopewell last year. Robb, a senior midfielder, and sophomore midfielder Kamryn Burtner are among the top goal scorers for the Knights. … South Park again reigns as a section champion after claiming the Section 4 title with a 10-0 record. The Eagles finished the regular season with a 1-2 record against nonsection playoff qualifiers Bethel Park, Thomas Jefferson and Winchester Thurston. South Park has won five WPIAL girls soccer championships, the most recent in 2018. Last year, the Eagles, as the No. 3 seed, lost to No. 2 Mt. Pleasant in the semifinals, 1-0 in overtime.

Class 2A

First Round

11-Keystone Oaks (9-7-1) at 6-Burrell (12-4)

7 p.m. Tuesday

Winner plays: Winner of 14-West Mifflin (7-7) at 3-Mt. Pleasant (15-2) Saturday in quarterfinals (site/time TBD)

Players to watch: Aly Simon, Keystone Oaks; Tessa Mathabel, Burrell

Throw-ins: The Bucs are WPIAL playoff qualifiers for the eighth year in a row. Burrell finished as runner-up (8-2) in Section 2, one point behind champion Freeport (8-1-1). The Bucs went to overtime with the Yellowjackets in the second meeting before losing 2-1. Burrell swept playoff-bound Knoch and Deer Lakes. Grace Nesko, Miley Kariotis, Mikaya Buchak, Mikayla Coury and Mathabel are among a deep corps of scoring threats for the Bucs. Burrell topped No. 5 South Park, 4-2, on Sept. 23. … Keystone Oaks (5-4-1) edged West Mifflin (4-6) for third place in Section 4 with a 4-3, two-overtime victory over the Titans on Oct. 2 looming large in the final standings. Simon, a sophomore, is a key figure in the attack for the Golden Eagles. Keystone Oaks was the No. 12 seed in last year’s Class 2A bracket and lost to No. 5 Avonworth on the Antelopes’ way to the WPIAL title. The Golden Eagles are in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

Class 2A

First Round

10-Deer Lakes (9-6-3) at 7-Shady Side Academy (12-3-1)

6 p.m. Tuesday

Winner plays: Winner of 15-Woodland Hills (7-6) vs. 2-North Catholic (13-2) Saturday in quarterfinals (site/time TBD)

Players to watch: Claire Cacurak, Deer Lakes; Sarah Kushnir, Shady Side Academy

Throw-ins: Deer Lakes returns to the WPIAL playoffs after missing out on the 2022 postseason, which snapped a five-year playoff-qualification streak. The Lancers made the 2018 Class 2A semifinals before losing to No. 2 Hopewell. They then suffered a 4-3 heartbreaker to Avonworth in the third-place game at Mars. Cacurak, a sophomore and one of the team’s leading scorers, scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Knoch on Oct. 16, which clinched third place in Section 2. Deer Lakes handed Freeport its only section loss. … Shady Side Academy’s only two Section 4 losses were a pair of 1-0 results against No. 5 South Park. The Bulldogs finished the regular season 9-1-1. SSA owns nonsection wins over Knoch and Burrell. Kushnir, Caroline Liptak and Ella Van Norman lead a Bulldogs offense that outscored its opponents 84-13 in 16 games.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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