Breaking down the 2019 WPIAL boys soccer playoffs
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 | 6:46 PM
Favorite: Plum (15-0-2) turned in one of the best regular seasons in school history and finished unbeaten. The only blemishes on the Mustangs’ record came in 1-1 ties against Allderdice and Norwin. They have a talented group of players led by Tyler Kolankowski, who has 20 goals and 12 assists. D.D. Flowers (14 goals) and AJ Koma (11 goals) have contributed offensively, as well, while Luke Kolankowski, Tyler’s younger brother, has held down the midfield with 11 assists. Luke Gildea and Cole Kelly, along with goalkeeper Gabe Kuhn, have been stout on the defensive end. With a first-round bye, they have a nice path to the championship.
Contenders: There are plenty of challengers throughout the Class 4A bracket. Norwin finished 15-2-1, with its only losses coming against Plum, 4-2, and Class 3A No. 1 Franklin Regional, 4-0, yet received the No. 6 seed. The Knights could have a tough matchup in the quarterfinals with defending WPIAL champion Seneca Valley (13-3-1). A year after going 7-12-1, Mt. Lebanon (13-4-1) received the No. 2 seed and captured the Section 2 championship.
Don’t overlook: Fox Chapel (11-3-3) finished second in Section 1 behind Seneca Valley, but the Foxes have a solid group of seniors and could put the pieces together in the playoffs.
Prediction: Plum over Norwin
Favorite: No. 1 seeds aren’t favorites all the time, but when you have a team that hasn’t lost a regular-season game in almost two calendar years and has only allowed three goals, they have to be the favorite. Franklin Regional (15-0-1), the defending Class AAA champion, has recorded 13 shutouts and won every game by three goals or more.
Contenders: Belle Vernon (16-1) has arrived ahead of schedule. The Leopards start six sophomores and only have two seniors on their roster. They produced nine shutouts and captured a Section 3 championship. Moon (15-2) and Mars (16-1-1) are in the conversation, as well. The Fightin’ Planets’ only loss came against Upper St. Clair, 2-0, and they tied Knoch, 3-3, midway through the season. Moon has been led by Justin Kopay with 23 goals and eight assists.
Don’t overlook: West Allegheny (11-5-1) is the defending PIAA champion. The Indians lost a lot to graduation, but they also have enough contributors back from last year to make a run.
Prediction: Franklin Regional over Moon
Favorite: Quaker Valley (16-2) hasn’t lost since the first week of the season. The Quakers have won 15 straight games with 10 shutouts. Senior Dom Reiter has 46 goals and 19 assists, becoming the sixth player in Quaker Valley history to record 200 career points. Coach Andrew Marshall and the Quakers have developed a winning pedigree that includes eight WPIAL titles. They came up just short last year, losing to Shady Side Academy in a shootout in the WPIAL championship.
Contenders: Class AA might be the most competitive of the four brackets. Two-time defending WPIAL champion Shady Side Academy (12-2-1) hit a rough patch down the stretch as it lost or tied three of its final five games. The Indians started on a 10-game winning streak and had a seven-game shutout streak at one point. Deer Lakes (13-4) reached the PIAA championship last year. The Lancers only lost their goalkeeper and center back and returned several key players, including a core group of juniors in Devin Murray, Mike Sullivan and Colton Spence. Charleroi (17-1) is having a season for the ages, led by three different 20-plus goal scorers. Cullin Waytovich leads the way with 48 goals and 23 assists.
Don’t overlook: Burrell (10-7) finished the regular season by winning five of its final six games, including a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Shady Side Academy.
Prediction: Quaker Valley over Deer Lakes
Favorite: As the No. 1 seed, Winchester Thurston (13-1) will be in the mix for its second title. The 2014 Class A champions only lost one game in the regular season — a 2-1 defeat against Section 2 rival Greensburg Central Catholic. The Bears recorded eight shutouts and have outscored opponents 116-8.
Contenders: Greensburg Central Catholic (11-3-1) suffered a late-season loss to Winchester Thurston after holding the No. 1 ranking for most of the season. The Centurions posted seven shutouts and allowed 16 goals. They stitched together a six-game win streak in the middle of their season and only suffered losses to Kiski School, 4-1; North Catholic, 4-1; and Winchester Thurston, 3-2. They are led by Indiana-commit Nate Ward. Riverside (13-3) won the Section 1 title and has won eight of its last nine games. Section 3 champion Carlynton (15-2) is riding high with 10 straight victories. Springdale (12-3) only lost goalkeeper Mike Zolnierczyk from a year ago, and sophomore Andrew Haus has filled in perfectly, only allowing eight goals. The Dynamos won their final six games.
Don’t overlook: Avonworth (14-3) is the defending WPIAL Class A champion still has talent to go around.
Prediction: Greensburg Central Catholic over Winchester Thurston
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .
Tags: Avonworth, Belle Vernon, Burrell, Carlynton, Charleroi, Deer Lakes, Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Greensburg C.C., Mars, Moon, Mt. lebanon, Norwin, Plum, Quaker Valley, Riverside, Seneca Valley, Shady Side Academy, Springdale, West Allegheny, Winchester Thurston