North Allegheny girls soccer continues to find success

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Thursday, November 7, 2019 | 7:58 PM


Facing a team with more experience in the PIAA Class AAA playoffs wasn’t a big issue for the North Allegheny girls soccer program.

If the Tigers lined up against any program, they would have approached things the same way. North Allegheny took 85 minutes, but ultimately found the back of the net in a 1-0 win over Cumberland Valley last Tuesday at Offutt Field.

The Tigers, who improved to 4-4 all-time in PIAA matches, advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals Saturday to play District 1 runner-up Boyertown.

Ava Ruppersberger scored the winner for North Allegheny (18-2-1) off a feed from Emma Bundy.

“We wanted to make that extra pass,” North Allegheny coach Chuck Kelley said. “We were looking for a way to keep the ball longer, we were rushing things. This is a difficult game after a WPIAL final. We’ve had four days off to get them to refocus on how they usually play and not think the game is bigger than it really is.”

The Tigers, who outshot the Eagles, 13-4, were snake-bitten throughout the game when it came to scoring opportunities.

During the final 10 minutes of the first half, North Allegheny nearly scored twice. One attempt from Bundy, a Duquesne recruit, was booted off the goal line by Eagles’ defender Carly Smith. Three minutes later on a corner kick, Bundy’s header was cleared away by Anna Stoner.

Kelley believed the Tigers would eventually figure things out.

“At some point we are going to find the right pass or play to set things up for our team,” Kelley said. “We’ve been playing this team for the entire time. We haven’t radically changed things. We may tweak things here or there and ask players to do something different, but for the most part it’s lining up and playing our style of soccer.”

Cumberland Valley (18-3-2) was making its seventh trip to the PIAA playoffs in the past eight seasons. The Eagles were a battled-tested group.

Cumberland Valley coach George Gemberling said the Eagles didn’t want to make any chances.

“We didn’t make any adjustments,” Gemberling said. “Both teams played straight up. No formation changes. At the last moment there, we flipped things in the middle because we wanted to tie it up. Those were two teams that worked hard (that night).”

Problem solving against teams North Allegheny has little history with will be a constant problem as the Tigers work forward in the state playoffs. Kelley’s group wants to show winning the school’s first-ever WPIAL crown wasn’t the only goal.

“We’re learning as we go here,” Kelley said. “This isn’t a program that has been in the playoffs year after year or in state championships year after year. We’re enthusiastic and enjoy what we’re doing. We’re focusing on that part and not who we are playing.”

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