Mars soccer teams look to cap undefeated seasons at PIAA championships
Thursday, November 19, 2020 | 4:18 PM
The Mars boys and girls soccer teams take their undefeated records into the final game of the season. Each will play for a state championship Friday at Hersheypark Stadium.
Mars (18-0) vs. Villa Joseph Marie (15-0)
4 p.m. Friday, Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey
Coaches: Blair Gerlach, Mars; Rich Finneyfrock, Villa Joseph Marie
State titles: Mars 2 (2011, ‘19); Villa Joseph Marie 11 (1993, ’96, ’98, 2000, ’01, ’02, ’04, ’05, ’07, ’14, ’18)
How they got here: Mars — Defeated Warren, 8-0, and Mechanicsburg, 2-0; Villa Joseph Marie — Defeated Northwestern Lehigh, 4-0, and Selinsgrove, 1-0 in double overtime.
Corner kicks: Mars is trying to become the first WPIAL team to repeat in the PIAA since Moon won back-to-back Class AAA state titles in 2016 and ‘17. … Both of Mars’ previous state championship match wins came over state power Villa Joseph Marie by 1-0 scores in 2011 and in 2019. … Taylor Hamlett had the game-winner last year for the Fightin’ Planets. … Senior Gracie Dunaway led Mars in scoring in the regular season with 18 goals. … Senior Ellie Coffield was second in scoring and tallied the first goal in the snow in the semifinals on a penalty kick. … After winning a second straight WPIAL title, Mars was ranked No. 1 in the United Soccer Coaches Fall Top 20.
The VJM girls have been the queens of the PIAA pitch with a record 11 titles, including victories over WPIAL teams Quaker Valley (twice), Sewickley Academy (twice), Charleroi, Greensburg Central Catholic and South Park. … The Jems played in the first PIAA girls soccer championship in 1992 and lost to Mt. Lebanon, 2-0. … Coach Finneyfrock has been at VJM since 2004 and won three ACC titles as a player at Clemson and coached the Philadelphia Freedom indoor soccer team. … In five postseason games, VJM has allowed only one goal. That came in a 2-1 victory over Gwynedd Mercy in the District 1 finals. … The Jems are playing in their 16th PIAA title match, including seven in a row.
Mars (20-0) vs. Northern York (19-0-1)
6:30 p.m. Friday, Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey
Coaches: Chris Knauff, Mars; Gaz Davies, Northern York
State titles: Mars 0 (second appearance); Northern York 0 (first appearance)
How they got here: Mars — Defeated Hollidaysburg, 4-1, and Cathedral Prep, 2-1; Northern York — Defeated Selinsgrove, 4-3, and Upper Moreland, 4-1.
Corner kicks: Mars’ only other state championship appearance was in 2007 when it lost to Palmyra, 2-0 in the PIAA Class AA final. … The Fightin’ Planets have played in seven games in which they won by only one goal. … Senior Dane Beller led Mars in scoring in the regular season with 26 goals. He registered a hat trick in the quarterfinal victory over Hollidaysburg. … Junior Eli Wright and senior Nabil Lahlou tallied goals in the state semifinal win over Cathedral Prep. … The Fightin’ Planets have only allowed eight goals all year and registered shutouts in their first 10 games. … Under Chris Knauff, Mars has reached the playoffs 14 straight years, won 10 section crowns and three WPIAL championships.
Northern York was the No. 3 seed in the District 3 playoffs and after beating Hershey in the quarterfinals, upset No. 2 Lower Dauphin to reach the district title match. There, it beat Fleetwood, 2-1. … Northern York was right at home in the cold and snow in the semifinals Tuesday since they are nicknamed the Polar Bears. … Northern York has scored 17 goals in five postseason matches. … The Polar Bears trailed 1-0 in their state semifinal match against Upper Moreland before scoring four unanswered goals by seniors Spencer Silverling, Connor Swope, Shepard Soisson and junior Zach French.
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