First PIAA-playoff appearance is ‘great opportunity’ for Plum girls soccer

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Monday, November 4, 2019 | 6:38 PM


The Plum girls soccer team fell short Saturday in its quest for a WPIAL Class AAA championship in its first title-game appearance.

The Mustangs were not able to solve unbeaten Mars in a 4-0 loss at Highmark Stadium.

But that didn’t end the season for Plum (17-2-1). It has turned its focus to the PIAA tournament and Tuesday’s first-round game against District 3 champion Manheim Central.

“Saturday certainly was a disappointment for the girls, but I told them after the game and then again (Sunday) that we need to move on,” Plum coach Jamie Stewart said. “Mars showed us some things we need to work on and fix, and we’ve worked hard to do that. We have a great opportunity starting Tuesday.”

The consolation for finishing as the WPIAL runner-up is a 225-mile journey to Cedar Crest High School. Tuesday’s game is set for 5 p.m.

“There are a lot of teams sitting at home right now wishing they were in our shoes,” Stewart said. “We wish we were closer to home, but at the end of the day, we’ll go anywhere to play a game. The girls are excited to get back on the field and get back at it. We want to go play the game and do the best we can.”

In a season of firsts, this is the first trip to the PIAA playoffs for Plum.

“We’re able to take a look at all we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve gotten,” Plum junior defender/midfielder Jamie Seneca said. “This team has made history. We’re all about teamwork and being one unit. We were upset about the loss to Mars, but we supported each other and are very excited we still get to play more games together.”

Plum, co-champions of Section 3 with Oakland Catholic, saw its 15-game unbeaten streak stopped against Mars. The Mustangs, as the No. 2 seed, topped Gateway, Hampton and West Allegheny to punch its ticket to the WPIAL finals.

Manheim Central is in the state playoffs for the third time in four seasons. The Barons topped Mechanicsburg, 3-0, in the District 3 title game.

Manheim Central (19-5) was eliminated from the PIAA playoffs by a WPIAL team in its previous two trips as District 3 champion. Last year, it lost to Mars, 2-0, in the first round. In 2016, the Barons were stopped by eventual PIAA champion Moon, 3-0, in the quarterfinals.

The Barons are led by senior captain Mackenna Copley, who scored a goal against Mechanicsburg and assisted on scores from senior forward Isabella Wendler and sophomore forward Hannah Adair.

Manheim Central goalkeeper Mia Reed has 11 shutouts.

“At this point, there are no bad teams in the state playoffs,” Stewart said. “We have to play our best game and learn from our mistakes against Mars. We have to get back to the way we know how to play soccer.”

The winner between Plum and Manheim Central will take on the winner of the match between District 11 champ Southern Lehigh and District 12 runner-up Archbishop Wood in the quarterfinals Saturday at a site and time to be determined.

Mars stays close to home Tuesday and takes on District 10 champion Warren at 6 p.m. at North Allegheny.

West Allegheny, which won the third-place consolation match over Belle Vernon, travels to Altoona’s Mansion Park Stadium for a match against District 6 champion Hollidaysburg.

“If someone at the beginning of the year would’ve said to us that we would play for a WPIAL championship and make it to the state playoffs, we would’ve taken that in a heartbeat,” Stewart said. “It shows the goals we set and their hard work to achieve those goals. The next goal is to win a state playoff game and hopefully keep going.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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