MSA Sports Top 25 WPIAL Stories of 2016 – #20 through #16

Friday, December 30, 2016 | 10:47 PM

It has become a tradition like no other…at least during the holiday season here at the MSA Sports Network. As we close out 2016 and another great high school sports year, we look back at some of the top stories from around the WPIAL in calendar year 2016. We continue our countdown with #20 through #16.


When the WPIAL released the new football alignment in January in preparation of the new six classification expansion, it didn’t take long to figure out that a very good football team was going to be home of the Class 3-A playoffs. The newly formed Beaver Valley Conference was loaded with traditional powers Aliquippa, Beaver, Beaver Falls and Central Valley along with a couple of pretty good Quaker Valley and Hopewell teams. Problem is, only the top two teams were guaranteed a postseason berth with the possibility of a third through a wild card. After beating defending champion Aliquippa in Week Two, Beaver took over the top-spot in the 3-A rankings. They fell out of the top spot after a Week 5 loss to Central Valley, the Bobcats worked their way back to #1 going into a Week 9 showdown with rival Beaver Falls. But the 20-15 loss to the Tigers not only knocked Beaver from being number one on the state rankings, it also knocked the Bobcats into a tie for third place in the conference, a tie in which they did not prevail in the tiebreakers and left a very good 7-2 Beaver team home for the playoffs.

#19 – MATT MURRAY-esque

Matt Murray was an unlikely hero in helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win their fourth Stanley Cup this past spring. Murray was a young, reserve netminder playing behind franchise goalie Mark Andre-Fleury until an injury put Murray in a starting role in the postseason and he made the most of it. Franklin Regional used a similar recipe for success. Nicholas Paone was the starting goalie for most of the regular season, but the Panthers turned to freshman netminder Daniel Soltesz at the start of the Penguins Cup Playoffs. After helping his team to wins over Montour and Bishop McCort in the Quarterfinals and Semifinals, Soltesz starred in the Class A Finals with 44 saves on 45 shots as Franklin Regional beat South Fayette 4-1 for the teams first ever PIHL Penguins Cup high school hockey championship.


It was a one-of-a-kind day for Dom Perretta back in late May. The senior pulled off an unassisted double and triple play. Perretta made history at the PIAA individual track and field championships at Shippensburg University. His double play came when he won the Class AA 800-meter and 1,600-meter runs. His triple play was that he won both events for the third year in a row. The effort put Perretta into the record book. He became the first runner in PIAA history to win both the 800 and 1,600 three consecutive years – in any classification. But Perretta did more than win both events again. He set a Class AA championship meet record in the 800 with a time of 1 minute, 50.10 seconds, breaking the mark of 1:51.96 set 29 years ago.


Bailey Cartwright helped lead Greensburg Central Catholic to a pair of WPIAL championships and one PIAA title and one state runner-up in her first three years as a Centurions. However GCC did not win gold in her senior year this fall after they were upset by Shady Side Academy in the WPIAL Finals and the PIAA Semifinals. But that doesn’t take away from the tremendous career she had in becoming the all-time leading goal scorer in WPIAL girls soccer history. The Notre Dame recruit scored 64 goals and 41 assists this fall in leading the Centurions to a 21-3 record and finished her career with a record 230 goals and 159 assists.


There has never been a football season like this past season at Derry High School. The Trojans won the Class 3-A Interstate Conference with a perfect regular season record of 10-0. Derry knocked off Central Valley in a home Quarterfinals game 33-20 before the season ended in the Semifinals with a 46-20 loss to defending champion Aliquippa. It was the first undefeated regular season since Derry Township was unbeaten in the 1930’s.  To put the most successful Trojans campaign since 1983 in perspective, consider the recent past of the program. 
* The playoff appearance was the first for the team since 2009
* The 11-1 final record along with the 5-4 mark from 2015 were the first two winning records for Derry this century
* The 11 wins for the Trojans was three wins shy of their combined total from 2005 through 2013
* The Trojans suffered through three 0-10 seasons in the last ten years

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