Breaking down the 2023 WPIAL boys soccer playoffs

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Wednesday, October 18, 2023 | 3:09 PM


Here’s a closer look at the 2023 WPIAL boys soccer playoffs:

Class 4A

Favorite: Seneca Valley (13-0-3), which has won three WPIAL titles in the last five years and was the runner-up last year, enters the postseason without a loss. The Raiders, led by veteran coach George Williams, ranked fifth in the state coaches’ poll. They have posted six straight shutouts and have scored 62 goals.

Contenders: North Allegheny (13-1-3) finished second to Seneca Valley — just barely — in the power section of 4A. The Tigers’ only loss was to Seneca Valley, 2-0. … Scrappy Butler (13-2-3) has not lost since early September and tied Seneca Valley and North Allegheny. … Section 2 champion Upper St. Clair (14-1-2), a six-time WPIAL champion, the last coming in 2011, hasn’t lost since Sept. 14. … Fox Chapel (10-4-2) also tied the top two teams in Section 1.

Don’t overlook: Norwin (12-5-1), which has a class-leading 64 goals, and Peters Township (12-3-1) tied for second in Section 2. The Indians have a seven-game unbeaten streak.

Top players: Owen Christopher, Norwin; Joe Donnelly, Upper St. Clair; Blake Gabelhart, Peters Township; Cole Kamarec, Seneca Valley; Nick Kilgore Butler; Colin Lazzara, Fox Chapel; Cody Lubinsky, Butler; Zack Nash, North Allegheny; Michael Shin, Fox Chapel; Ryan Simonette, Canon-McMillan; Danny Stevens, North Allegheny

Prediction: North Allegheny over Seneca Valley

Class 3A

Favorite: Plum (17-1) picked up the No. 1 seed after winning Section 4 without a loss. The Mustangs are ranked No. 3 in the state and have 11 shutouts. The team has one WPIAL title, in 2005.

Contenders: Hampton (13-2-1), the Section 1 winner, put up 74 goals to lead 3A. Its two losses are to 4A teams. …Defending champion Moon (14-3-1) edged Montour (13-3) to win Section 2. … Bethel Park (15-1-1) outscored teams 69-8 and did not lose to a 3A opponent.

Don’t overlook: Mars (11-3-1) finished as the Section 1 runner-up to Hampton and surrendered only 11 goals. … Thomas Jefferson has allowed only eight goals in 14 games.

Top players: Roman Agostoni, Latrobe; Joey Bayne, Franklin Regional; Nate Belcufine, South Fayette; Luke Fiscus, Hampton; Henry Gaston, Bethel Park; Owen Haywood, Ringgold; Matt Marcinko, Montour; Brayden Miller, Thomas Jefferson; Cooper Nickles, Moon; Tristan Ralph, Plum; Mike Walenchock, Moon

Prediction: Plum over Moon

Class 2A

Favorite: Undefeated South Park (18-0) has a good shot at its first WPIAL title since 2014. The high-powered Eagles have produced 79 goals and have given up six.

Contenders: Deer Lakes (14-2), the champion in 2022 and ‘20, has scored 117 goals and allowed 17. The Lancers do not have a loss in October. … Avonworth (14-2-1) and Quaker Valley (14-3) tied for the Section 4 title. The Antelopes’ losses are to Quaker Valley and South Park. Quaker Valley has pumped in 89 goals. … A team with 100 goals, Shady Side Academy (12-4-1), has four losses, but three of them are against Deer Lakes, Plum and Fox Chapel.

Don’t overlook: Belle Vernon (14-2) features Trevor Kovatch, who is second in the WPIAL with 47 goals.

Top players: Nick Allan, Quaker Valley; Amir Awais, Shady Side Academy; Danny Batista, South Park; Rowan Carmichael, Avonworth; Joe Connors, East Allegheny; Kaiden Fischer, South Park; Trevor Kovatch, Belle Vernon; Peyton Kushon, Deer Lakes; Jack Ozimek, South Park; Collin Rodgers, Deer Lakes; Dylan Stewart, McGuffey; Jordan Taylor, Jeannette

Prediction: South Park over Deer Lakes

Class A

Favorite: Charleroi (16-0) ripped through Section 1 and posted 10 shutouts. Four of the Cougars’ wins came against teams in larger classifications. They are ranked second in the state.

Contenders: Sewickley Academy (12-2-1) gave up only 15 goals in as many games. … Springdale (13-3) and Burrell (12-3) tied for the Section 3 title and split a pair of games. … Seton LaSalle (12-2-1) allowed only six goals and posted 11 shutouts in 13 games. The Rebels split Section 4 with Serra Catholic.

Don’t overlook: Bentworth (14-2), which plays fast, leads the classification with 110 goals. Both of its losses are to Charleroi. … Winchester Thurston (10-3-2) has won the last two titles.

Top players: Jack Billick, Seton LaSalle; Danny Bourgeois, OLSH; Jake Chambers, Charleroi; Nick Cherry, Seton LaSalle; Chase D’Antonio, Sewickley Academy; Sean Kelsch, Bishop Canevin; Billy Lawrence, Springdale; AJ Mejalli, Serra Catholic; Ryan Moessner, Bentworth; John Scott, Bentworth; Tomer Tuti, Winchester Thurston

Prediction: Charleroi over Sewickley Academy

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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