Breaking down the 2017 WPIAL boys soccer playoffs

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 | 8:51 PM


Favorite: Peters Township is the only unbeaten team in Class 4A and for good reason; the Indians are loaded with talent. They have outscored opponents 34-8. All-state senior midfielder Bryce Gabelhart and senior forward Logan Brinsky, as well as senior midfielder Luke Kelly, a St. Francis (Pa.) recruit, lead the Indians, who have won 13 straight since a 2-2 tie with Central Catholic.

Contenders: Defending WPIAL champion North Allegheny claimed the Section 1 title and is riding a 12-0-1 winning streak. Lehigh recruit Josh Luchini, who leads the Tigers with 26 goals, was picked to play in the All-American game in Orlando. Franklin Regional won its final seven games to claim the Section 4 title. Section 4 runner-up Norwin posted six shutouts and is on a 5-0-1 run. Junior Carter Breen leads the Knights with 19 goals. Central Catholic cruised to the Section 3 title with an 11-0-1 record and has won 10 of its past 12 games, with losses to Franklin Regional and Seneca Valley on Tuesday. Senior Callin Scharba leads Section 4 runner-up Plum with nine goals, and Darius Flowers has eight. Seneca Valley finished second in Section 1 after posting a 6-3-1 record. Losses to Butler and Pine-Richland allowed NA to win the section title.

Don't overlook: Penn-Trafford, led by Radford recruit and 40-career goal scorer Austin Kreutzberger, spent parts of the season in the top 5 rankings. The Warriors' lone losses came to Franklin Regional, Norwin and Connellsville.

Prediction: Peters Township over Franklin Regional


Favorite: West Allegheny lost its first game 2-1 to Franklin Regional at the Shaler tournament. After that, the Indians were unbeatable, going 16-0-1 to win Section 2 and earn the top seed for the WPIAL playoffs. The Indians posted 11 shutouts and outscored opponents 65-9.

Contenders: Defending WPIAL champion Chartiers Valley has the talent and experience to again contend, led by a defense that posted 10 shutouts en route to the Section 4 title. The defense is anchored by an all-senior back line of Johnny Henderson, Baxter Eckenrode, John Uher, Lennon Zrimsek and Matt Dyczewski. At 8-1-1, South Fayette challenged CV in Section 4 but lost to the Colts, 1-0, on Oct. 10. Montour was a PIAA qualifier a year ago and got off to a fast start at 6-1 before losing two West Allegheny twice in section play to finish 8-2. Section 3 champion Ringgold finished 8-0-2, including a 2-1 win over Belle Vernon on Oct. 5. The Rams' four losses were to three Class AAAA teams and West Allegheny. Mars and Knoch shared the Section 1 title with 10-1-1 records. Mars finished second in the WPIAL and reached the PIAA quarterfinals last season.

Don't overlook: Belle Vernon finished second in Section 3 but had several bright moments throughout the season, usually provided by junior forward Markello Apodiakos, who set school records for goals in a season (32) and career points (79).

Prediction: West Allegheny over Montour


Favorite: Quaker Valley captured the 2016 WPIAL championship and is poised to return to Highmark Stadium after finishing 10-0 in Section 4. The eight-time WPIAL champion Quakers' lone loss was a 3-1 nonsection defeat against Montour. They outscored opponents 105-12, including nine shutouts. Senior captains Ian Rodgers, Bando Grant and Caleb Bender lead an experienced group that lost in the PIAA title game last season.

Contenders: One of the hottest teams in the WPIAL, Mt. Pleasant enters the playoffs on a 12-game winning streak, which included seven straight shutouts for Shane Piper. South Park breezed to the Section 1 title with a 12-0 mark. The Eagles started 10-0 and won four straight before a 4-0 loss to Ringgold on Tuesday. The offensive attack is led by Logan Mannheimer, Marco Maffeo and Nick Savage. Despite two losses this season to Mt. Pleasant, Section 2 runner-up Deer Lakes finished on a 7-1-1 run. The Lancers also had a string of seven straight shutouts. Obama Academy and Keystone Oaks each had three losses in Section 1 but were among the most competitive teams in Class AA. Charleroi and Waynesburg shared the Section 3 title at 10-2, and the Cougars finished on a 10-game winning streak.

Don't overlook: Freeport captured the Section 2 title last season for the first time since 1999 but then fell in the first round to PIAA qualifier Beaver. The Yellowjackets dropped two games to both Mt. Pleasant and Deer Lakes but outscored their other opponents 62-11.

Prediction: QV over Mt. Pleasant


Favorite:Freedom appeared poised for a special season when it ended Sewickely Academy's 60-game section winning streak in September. The Bulldogs were the only unblemished team in the WPIAL before Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Central Valley. They are led by Carson Gilarno and Santino Guandolo, who were all-section selections last season.

Contenders: Seton LaSalle advanced to the PIAA tournament last season with help from forward Darryl Daniels, who led the WPIAL in scoring a year ago with 41 goals and was named the Class A player of the year and an all-state selection. Kellen Krebs also was an All-WPIAL pick last season. Both have continued to fill nets for the Rebels, who won Section 4 at 12-1-1. Daniels has 25 goals; Krebs has 20. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, the 2016 WPIAL runner-up, claimed the Section 3 title at 14-0 and only lost to Pine-Richland. The Trojans outscored opponents by an astounding 118-6. Winchester Thurston, winners of 13 straight games, scored a pair of one-goal wins over Greensburg Central Catholic to lock up the Section 2 title at 12-0. Rivals Springdale and Riverview battled for second in Section 3, with the Dynamos getting the edge at 10-3-1, though Riverview won the most recent meeting, 2-1 on Oct. 12.

Don't overlook: Sewickley Academy won the 2016 WPIAL championship and was a PIAA runner-up. The Panthers, who have played in the past five PIAA title games, hit a few rough patches, but have playoff experience on their side despite returning only three starters.

Prediction: Freedom over CWNC

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