Breaking down the 2021 WPIAL girls soccer playoffs

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | 4:04 PM


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

Class 4A

Favorite: Two-time defending champion North Allegheny has a 22-game unbeaten streak against WPIAL competition and has not lost since last year’s PIAA championship, 1-0, against Pennridge. The Tigers (15-0-1), led by top goal scorer Lucia Wells, are ranked No. 1 in the state. The Tigers have surrendered four goals all season, including two in a 3-2 win over Norwin. They have 13 shutouts in 16 games.

Contenders: Section 2 champion Moon, No. 4 in the state, has 11 clean sheets in 14 games, including two over Peters Township. The second-seeded Tigers (13-1-1) reached the semifinals last year. … Upstart Latrobe (13-0-1) looks legit after winning its first section title since 1992. Watch out for the Reilly sisters, Robin, Regan and Morgan. The No. 3 Wildcats have allowed seven goals. … No. 6 Peters Township (9-3-3) also was a semifinal team in 2020 but lost to North Allegheny, 3-0. Jillian Marvin and CeCe Scott are scoring threats. … No. 4 Seneca Valley (12-3-2) and No. 7 Butler (12-2-2) played North Allegheny close in Section 1.

Don’t overlook: No. 5 Norwin (11-4) overcame injuries to post eight shutouts and only lost 3-2 to North Allegheny, but was swept by Latrobe.

Prediction: North Allegheny over Moon

Class 3A

Favorite: State No. 1 Mars also will go for a WPIAL three-peat. The Fightin’ Planets (12-0-1) take a 55-game unbeaten streak into the postseason. They have won 68 straight section games. With 11 clean sheets in 13 games, Mars is one of the top defensive units in the state. It has outscored teams 40-1. Senior Leana Cuzzocrea is a player to watch.

Contenders: Plum was the runner-up last year and has shown it has the firepower to make a return to the finals. Junior Kaitlyin Killinger is a key player for the No. 2 Mustangs (16-1), who won Section 3 by nearly three games. Their only loss is to 4A Norwin. … No. 3 Franklin Regional (12-3-1) has one of the most talented top-to-bottom lineups, led by senior Sydney Lindeman (Towson) and strong sophomore keeper Aria Lamanna. … No. 7 Hampton (11-3-2) finished second to Franklin Regional in Section 1 but the Talbots are dangerous with senior Ava France and sophomore Madison Hurst in the lineup. … No. 4 Connellsville (14-3) won the Section 2 title.

Don’t overlook: High-scoring Belle Vernon (15-3), the No. 8 seed, is on an 11-game winning streak and features scorers Morgan Eidenshofer and Farrah Reader.

Prediction: Mars over Plum

Class 2A

Favorite: Yet another WPIAL team seeking a third straight title is North Catholic. The Trojanettes (14-1) lost in the state final to Bloomsburg, 1-0. They have outscored their opponents 69-6. Senior Georgia State commit Jayden Sharpless is a threat to score from anywhere on the field.

Contenders: No. 2 Southmoreland (12-1-2) was a semifinalist and has a talented corps of returnees, including juniors Olivia Cernuto and Kendall Fabery. … Mt. Pleasant (12-5) and Yough (12-3-1), two other teams from Section 3, also are capable of making some noise because of their sound defensive play. … No. 3 South Park (11-3-4) and No. 4 Elizabeth Forward (13-2-2) for the Section 4 title. South Park has now won 25 straight section titles.

Don’t overlook: No. 6Avonworth (12-3-1) split with North Catholic and is a returning semifinalist. Standout goalie Ada Wert is returning from injury.

Prediction: North Catholic over South Park

Class A

Favorite: There aren’t many teams with the firepower of defending champion Greensburg Central Catholic. The Centurions (12-1) feature career 100-goal scorer Tatum Gretz (Villanova) and standout Sara Felder, among others. Since a 5-1 loss to Springdale three games into the season, GCC is 10-0 and has outscored teams 90-7. The Centurions have won 11 straight section titles.

Contenders: No. 2 Springdale (16-1) was a co-section champion with GCC, which dealt the Dynamos their only loss. They have seven straight wins since. … No. 3 Steel Valley (14-2) is led by Soraya Gibbs and Kelsey Salopek and has playoff experience. … Section 4 champion Bishop Canevin (13-0-1), the No. 4 seed, is actually ranked No. 1 in the state. The Crusaders’ tie came against second-place Winchester Thurston (10-3-1). Watch senior Ainsley Smith.

Don’t overlook: No. 5 Freedom (12-3) always seems to be in the mix. The Bulldogs have allowed some goals, though. They lost 8-6 to GCC.

Prediction: GCC over Springdale

*Check out complete WPIAL playoff brackets here.

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

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