Breaking down the 2023 WPIAL girls soccer playoffs

Wednesday, October 18, 2023 | 3:18 PM

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

Class 4A

Favorite: The preseason favorite, North Allegheny (17-0) has not lost and has outscored teams 90-10. The Tigers were champions three times in the last four years (2022, ‘20, ‘19).

Contenders: Section 2 winner Upper St. Clair (15-1) has outscored its opponents 90-3 and takes an eight-game winning streak into the playoffs. … Seneca Valley (13-2-1) has two losses, both to North Allegheny. … With a dozen shutouts, one-loss Peters Township (13-1-2) could be a threat. … Fox Chapel (10-4-2) played North Allegheny and Seneca Valley close in section matchups.

Don’t overlook: Mt. Lebanon (10-5-2) was a semifinalist last year. It has a tie against Peters Township.

Top players: Lilly Bane, Canon-McMillan; Sierra Dupre, Upper St. Clair; Libby Early, North Allegheny; Natalie Figura, North Allegheny; Kate Friday, Fox Chapel; Camryn Klein, Peters Township; Molly Kubistek, Peters Township; Jackie Massof, Mt. Lebanon; Abigail Stager, North Allegheny; Ayla Ward, Seneca Valley; Leah Weiland, Butler

Prediction: North Allegheny over Peters Township

Class 3A

Favorite: Mars (14-0), the state’s No. 1-ranked team, kept rolling despite graduation losses, outscoring teams 73-1 and winning Section 1. The Fightin’ Planets are organized defensively and force teams into mistakes, a recipe that leads to wins.

Contenders: Defending champion Moon (12-1-2) began the season ranked nationally under 500-win coach Bill Pfeifer. The Tigers, who won the Class 4A title two years ago, could be fated to see unbeaten Mars again in the final. Moon has allowed two goals in 15 games. … Plum (15-0-1) cruised to the Section 3 title and posted 11 shutouts. … Thomas Jefferson (16-1) has scored 119 goals and is riding a 16-game winning streak. … Latrobe (12-2) has three Division I players in the lineup, but both of its losses are to Plum.

Don’t overlook: South Fayette (10-4-2) upset and tied Moon and also beat Montour. … Montour (12-2-2) tied Plum and lost to Moon in overtime.

Top players: Brooklyn Baldesberger, Elizabeth Forward; Grace Bannon, Montour; Kate Chiado, Laurel Highlands; Sydney Felton, Moon; Anna Fraps, South Fayette; Addison Girdwood, Mars; Aris Lamanna, Franklin Regional; Natalie Lamenza, Thomas Jefferson; Serayah Leech, Moon; Robin Reilly, Latrobe; Ava Weleski, Plum; Elizabeth Wilson, Ringgold

Prediction: Moon over Mars

Class 2A

Favorite: Avonworth (14-1-2) is the two-time defending champion, and its only loss is to section co-champ North Catholic. Alabama commit Fiona Mahan holds the Antelopes together. Nonsection wins over South Fayette and Freedom speak to their talent.

Contenders: North Catholic (13-2) has not lost in 10 games and has let up only eight goals. … Mt. Pleasant (15-2), the runner-up a year ago, has talent and speed. It has won 14 straight and has outscored teams 126-3. … South Park (13-5), a returning semifinalist, won Section 4 by two games and lost 1-0 to Mt. Pleasant. The Eagles have won 27 straight section titles. … Freeport (13-1-1) won the Section 2 title thanks to a tie against Knoch. … Shady Side Academy (12-3-1) has a pair of 1-0 losses to South Park but is dangerous.

Don’t overlook: Burrell (12-4) has a 4-2 win over South Park to its credit. Its losses are to Freeport, Shady Side Academy and Plum.

Top players: Gianna Babusci, Avonworth; Rylin Bugosh, Mt. Pleasant; Claire Cacurak, Deer Lakes; Jada Downs, West Mifflin; Morgan Gesinski, Mt. Pleasant; Sarah Kushnir, Shady Side Academy; Caroline Liptak, Shady Side Academy; Fiona Mahan, Avonworth; Emily Mihelcic, South Park; Simone Sharpless, North Catholic; Camryn Woods, Freeport

Prediction: Mt. Pleasant over Avonworth

Class A

Favorite: High-scoring Riverview (15-2) rallied to win its first section title with late-season wins over Greensburg Central Catholic and Springdale. Lola Abraham, a Pitt commit, leads the WPIAL with 56 goals.

Contenders: Defending champion Freedom (14-3) was awarded the No. 2 seed after winning Section 3 by three games. The Bulldogs won 11 straight after an early loss to Montour. … Charleroi (14-1) scored 68 goals and allowed 15 on the way to a title in Section 2. … Winchester Thurston (10-2) played a challenging schedule with losses to North Catholic and South Park. … Springdale (11-3), the returning runner-up, has been a top-five team all season.

Don’t overlook: A perennial contender, Greensburg Central Catholic (10-2) has a small roster but brings experience. … OLSH (9-4) made a recent trip to the finals. … Waynesburg (11-4) was in the semifinals last year.

Top players: Lola Abraham, Riverview; Shaye Bailey, Freedom; Amelia Brose, Chartiers-Houston; Bella Carroto, Charleroi; McKenna DeUnger, Charleroi; Maeve Dever, Winchester Thurston; Molly Hurley, Springdale; Riley Kerr, Greensburg C.C.; Ella Miller, Waynesburg; Brianna Ross, Springdale; Katherine Varghese, Sewickley Academy

Prediction: Freedom over Riverview

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

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