North Journal notebook: North Allegheny field hockey rebounds

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Saturday, October 17, 2020 | 11:01 AM


The North Allegheny field hockey team hit the midseason portion of its schedule with a record of 3-3.

The Tigers then rebounded from 1-0 loss to Pine-Richland on Sept. 30 with 3-0-1 stretch, including wins over Mt. Lebanon, Allderdice and Fox Chapel and a scoreless tie with Peters Township.

“The players have been getting back onto our passing game,” NA coach Michelle Couch said. “We also have readjusted our formation and lineup to fit players in and find our mesh that works.”

Against Fox Chapel on Oct. 8, senior Maria Duchi scored with just under 1 minute left in overtime to give the Tigers a 1-0 nonsection victory.

Sophomore goalie Jordan Ashbaugh earned the shutout.

“The winning goal was beautiful,” Couch said. “It was a cross pass into the circle, and a great shot on cage.”

The victory helped North Allegheny improve to 6-3-1 overall and 5-2-1 in Section 1-3A.

The Tigers trail Pine-Richland (7-0) and Peters Township (6-1-1) in the section standings.

“We need to finish the season strong,” Couch said, “by playing together as a team for one common goal, competing for a WPIAL title.”

NH girls off schneid

North Hills girls soccer snapped an eight-game losing streak on Oct. 10 with a 7-1 victory over Shaler.

Olivia Yoder scored four goals, Lydia Ohm added two and Kara Smolensky also found the back of the net for the Indians.

The Indians entered their season finale against Trinity with an overall record of 2-9-1 and Section 1-4A mark of 1-8-1.

Softball success

The North Allegheny slow-pitch softball team entered its regular season finale last weekend with a record of 9-3 in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Softball League.

The Tigers were scheduled to play North Hills.

Defending league champion North Hills, which split with Seneca Valley on Oct. 11, entered the matchup 8-4.

NA tennis advances

The North Allegheny girls tennis team earned a 4-1 win over Franklin Regional in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs last week.

Sophomore Emily Wincko and junior Claire Zheng won singles matches. Sophomore Abby Swirsding and senior Clare Shao and sophomore Rebecca Kolano and freshman Siya Jain won in straight sets in doubles.

The Tigers advanced to play top-seeded Peters Township in the quarterfinals, after deadline for this edition.

Playoff format finalized

If playoff qualifiers can’t be determined from the standings, the WPIAL steering committee for each sport will decide who makes the postseason this fall.

That surely will be the most scrutinized change the WPIAL board approved Oct. 14 while finalizing plans for an unprecedented postseason under covid-19 conditions. Among its other decisions, higher-seeded teams in football, soccer, volleyball and field hockey will host home games in the playoffs through the WPIAL semifinals.

But the decision to empower the committees will draw the most scrutiny.

That’s because identifying playoff teams will be harder than usual after virus-related shutdowns canceled a number of regular-season games. In football for example, the math formulas traditionally used as tiebreakers — Gardner Points and margin of victory — don’t work with unbalanced standings.

The simplest fix was to trust the committees’ opinions.

“We did talk about other ways, but you come back to the same way,” WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman said. “You could break it down into winning percentage, but that’s not fair. Every way you break it down, it turns into: ‘Well, that’s not fair and that’s not fair.’

“There are other people who have other opinions, but we thought this was the best way.”

When the steering committees reconvene later this month to seed the brackets, they’ll use head-to-head records, common opponents, strength of schedule or other factors to fill in the blanks. At a minimum, the committee will need to decide all 12 football wild cards.

The top four teams in each section qualify in field hockey, soccer and volleyball.

Class 6A football has a four-team playoff bracket.

Scheuneman said the football brackets will be revealed online Oct. 24 or 25 via the TribLive High School Sports Network.

Among other decisions, the WPIAL cross country championships will be run in two heats per classification Oct. 28-29 at White Oak Park. The cross country committee will seed the races.

The WPIAL hasn’t chosen championship sites for football, volleyball or soccer. Fox Chapel will host the field hockey finals.

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.

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