Breaking down the 2021 WPIAL boys soccer playoffs

Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | 3:47 PM

Here’s a look at the 2021 WPIAL boys soccer playoffs:

Class 4A

Favorite: Seneca Valley impressively negotiated a challenging Section 1 schedule and won the title by three games. The Nathan Prex-led Raiders (15-0-1), ranked third in the state, registered 11 shutouts and their one tie came against Fox Chapel. They have won two of the last three WPIAL titles and also brought home a PIAA crown last season. The team has not been beaten in 29 straight games.

Contenders: No. 2 Peters Township (14-1-1) tied No. 4 Canon-McMillan (13-2-1) for the Section 2 title. The Indians have one of the state’s top talents in Andrew Masucci, the returning state player of the year. … No. 3 Norwin (14-1-1) made the semifinals last year and has the talent to return with go-to scorer Caleb Yuricha. The Knights went 12-0-1 after a loss to Seneca Valley in the second game of the season. … Canon-McMillan has seven shutouts, including five in its last seven games. … Butler (13-5) has a tenancy to hang around top-tier teams.

Don’t overlook: Fox Chapel (13-3-1) lost to Peters Township in last year’s semis, 2-1.

Prediction: Seneca Valley over Norwin

Class 3A

Favorite: West Allegheny has been a perennial playoff team but a WPIAL title has eluded the top-seeded Indians (18-0), with their last coming in 2013. They join South Park as the only undefeated, untied teams on the boys’ side. They have 14 shutouts across 18 games. The Indians, ranked No. 1 in the state, have reached the WPIAL final in three of the past four years.

Contenders: No. 3 Franklin Regional (13-3) won WPIAL titles in 2018 and ‘19 and Anthony DiFalco was a big reason. The senior has more than 20 goals and 20 assists. … No. 2 Hampton’s only loss was 2-1 against North Allegheny. The Talbots (15-1) shut out eight of their first 11 opponents. … No. 4 Plum (15-2-1) is lurking after tying Franklin Regional for the Section 4 title. The Mustangs beat the Panthers, 4-1. … No. 5 Thomas Jefferson (15-1-2) is the Section 3 champ and is 13-0-1 since a loss to Laurel Highlands.

Don’t overlook: No. 7 Moon (15-2) finished second to West Allegheny in Section 2.

Prediction: West Allegheny over Franklin Regional

Class 2A

Favorite: State No. 1 South Park, not on early radars, cruised to the Section 1 title and finished the regular season 18-0. The Eagles only yielded five goals while hanging 13 shutouts. Andrew Spowart is one of the team’s top scorers. The Eagles lost 1-0 in the quarterfinals to Deer Lakes last year.

Contenders: Despite dropping its final section game, 2-1, to Deer Lakes, No. 3 Shady Side Academy (10-2) has the talent to make a run behind Sam Farner and Joe Anania. … No. 2 Quaker Valley (15-2), a contender last year until its season ended early due to covid protocols, didn’t lose in Section 4 play. The Quakers blanked 13 opponents. … No. 4 Charleroi (13-2) features WPIAL goal-scoring leader Eben McIntyre, a Pitt commit, who has 66 goals this season and more than 100 in his career.

Don’t overlook: No. 7 Deer Lakes (8-4-1) beat Shady Side Academy in the WPIAL championship last year, 2-1, and finished runner-up in the state.

Prediction: South Park over Quaker Valley

Class A

Favorite: Greensburg Central Catholic is out to win a third straight title, led by senior Mason Fabean and junior Carlo Denis. The Centurions (12-2) fell badly in a late-season nonsection game to 2A No. 2 seed Quaker Valley, 13-1, to end a 12-game winning streak. Another loss was in the season opener against Eden Christian, at home.

Contenders: No. 2 Winchester Thurston (15-0-1) won Section 3 by two games over upstart Eden Christian. GCC edged Winchester Thurston in the championship last year, 3-2. The Bears have 13 shutouts. Alex Hauskrecht is among the better finishers in Class A. … No. 5 Eden Christian (14-2-1), whose two losses are to Winchester Thurston, has a win over OLSH, 2-0. It lost to GCC in last year’s quarterfinals, 1-0. … Section 1 champion Sewickley Academy (11-1-1), the No. 3 seed, has one loss, to Seton LaSalle, and it tied OLSH. Michael DiSantis and Hudson Colletti make one of the top scoring tandems in the classification.

Don’t overlook: No. 4 Bentworth (13-1-1) won Section 4 and hasn’t lost since a 5-0 setback against Laurel Highlands in early September.

Prediction: Winchester Thurston over GCC

*Check out complete WPIAL playoff brackets here.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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