Banner season for West Allegheny girls soccer team fulfills grade school promise

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 | 11:52 PM

Juniors Mackenzie Taranto and Morgan Shansky sat together six years ago in West Allegheny’s high school gymnasium and scanned the rafters for every section, WPIAL and PIAA banner.

The football team was fresh off its second consecutive WPIAL Championship, and the boys soccer team had just won a title.

The one sport missing, they noticed, was girls soccer.

“When we asked our parents why they didn’t have one for girls soccer, they said the team never won a banner,” Taranto said. “We said all the way back in fifth grade that our goal was to win so the girls soccer team had a banner, too.”

No. 4 West Allegheny will finally get a girls soccer banner after Monday’s 2-1 win over Ambridge clinched the Section 4-3A title, the program’s first championship of any kind.

“We’ve always talked about this,” senior Ali Block said. “It’s the craziest feeling ever.”

Taranto took corner kicks and earned assists on the Indians’ goals, the first scored 10 seconds before halftime by sophomore Mackenzie Evers and the game winner by senior Rhianna Bates.

“It feels like a dream,” Taranto said. “After the game, Morgan and I were crying. I’m so proud of my team.”

The Indians will put any celebrations on hold. Their last section game is against second-place Montour and then it’s on to the postseason.

“I think after all the excitement, the first thing we talked about was that this isn’t the end,” Taranto said. “We know we have to work as hard as we can to get far in the playoffs.”

West Allegheny is led offensively by Taranto, Evers, and Shansky, who have combined for 26 goals. The Indians also recently got more firepower in their lineup with the return of Bates, who was out most of the season.

The backline is anchored by senior Ali Block, and coach Dave Tissue has two goalies, freshman Kayla Howard and sophomore Caroline Bachowski, play one half each in every game.

They have allowed nine goals in 11 section games.

“Everyone plays really well together — especially after last year, with our two outsides being freshmen then — so we learned from each other,” Block said. “It’s also definitely different (with two goalies). A lot of teams don’t do that, but they’re really solid back there.”

Aside from a late September loss to Chartiers Valley, the Indians have played nearly flawless soccer in section games.

“It was a letdown, and there’s a target on us now,” Tissue said. “Honestly, we outplayed them, but we didn’t test their goalie. We might have taken four shots the whole game when we could have taken more. I think they came back down to reality. They know they made mistakes, but I don’t think they’ll lose a game like that again.”

The Indians learned they can’t take any opponents lightly.

“We have to work hard, because no win is going to be given to us,” Taranto said. “We’re all working for a common goal and most importantly for each other. No one is out there playing for themselves, and that makes us stronger for playoffs.”


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