North Journal notebook: North Allegheny water polo teams look to reach states

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Sunday, October 25, 2020 | 11:01 AM


It’s the best time of the year for members of the North Allegheny water polo teams.

After battling through the regular season, the Tigers are competing this week at the Western Conference Round Robin Tournament at the Hagerty Family Events Center in Erie with hopes of advancing to the state championship Nov. 7 at Wilson High School.

Unlike in past years, only four slots are available for the boys and girls state competitions, meaning every match is important at the round robin. The best team from each conference advances to states in a final four format.

“It’s fair enough and gives everyone equal chance to get by and avoid calculations of regular season games as it wasn’t the same as we all used to have,” NA coach Damir Matanovic said.

The North Allegheny boys improved to 7-1 after an 11-8 win over McDowell last week. The NA girls won 8-5 over McDowell to move to 5-4 this season.

Both teams were scheduled to play Wilson on Saturday before heading to Erie for the start of the round robin Tuesday.

The team has endured its share of setbacks because of covid-19. The girls team was shut down for two weeks at one point.

“We are fighting through and trying to get the most out of the season, just to make sure that the kids still enjoy it and feel good about it,” Matanovic said. “It’s extremely hard because every day we wake up and start to think whether or not are we going to play or train anymore, and certainly we want kids to work out as well as take all necessary precautions, which we do.”

Against McDowell, the NA boys were led by senior captain David Lomakin, who had three goals and has 40 this season. Senior Tyler Tieppo, junior Ethan Berty and sophomore Keller Sens had two goals each. Eliot Maravich and Justin Morrison combined for nine saves in net.

The girls were paced by junior Emily Donnelly and sophomore Rebecca Melanson, who each had three goals. Senior Emma Halle also scored and has a team-high 34 goals this season. Junior Hannah Ziegler made 12 saves in net.

“Our teams this year are very young, where we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on both teams and very few seniors,” Matanovic said. “Therefore, our philosophy is to build teamwork, and it’s all based on trust and hard work.

“Our strength is that we have several players who can play multiple roles on the team, and it’s noticeable that individually we are not as good as we are as a team. So team effort and teamwork is what we are striving for.”

Soccer playoffs

The North Allegheny boys and girls soccer teams each qualified for the WPIAL playoffs.

The Tigers girls team, which finished 7-2 overall and 6-1 in Section 1, was seeded fifth and scheduled to play No. 12 Bethel Park in the Class 4A first round Monday.

The quarterfinals are set for Thursday and the semifinals are Monday. The championship game is Nov. 7 at a site to be determined.

The NA boys, who were 11-3-1 overall and 8-3-1 in Section 1-4A, were seeded sixth and were scheduled to host No. 11 Allderdice on Tuesday.

The quarterfinals are Saturday, and the semifinals are Nov. 4. The championship is set for Nov. 7 at a site to be determined.

NH girls finish strong

Olivia Yoder scored and Kameryn Nelson secured the shutout as North Hills defeated Fox Chapel, 1-0, in the season finale Oct. 19.

The Indians finished the season on a four-game winning streak, also topping Shaler (7-1), Springdale (8-0) and Hampton (3-1) to finish the season 5-8-1 overall. North Hills finished Section 1-4A play with a record of 1-7-1, good for fifth place.

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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