Quick-strike offense, airtight defense carry Moon to WPIAL title win over Seneca Valley

Thursday, November 4, 2021 | 10:39 PM

The Moon girls soccer team got off to a quick start and didn’t slow down.

Elizabeth Hoff scored in the third minute and the second-seeded Tigers added two more goals in the first half en route to a 4-0 victory over No. 4 Seneca Valley in the WPIAL Class 4A championship Thursday night at Highmark Stadium.

“It was phenomenal,” Moon coach Phil Pfiefer said about his team’s quick start. “We have been having some problems lately with putting the ball in the back of the net. We had been getting a lot of chances, but hadn’t been putting them home.

“When we played against Butler the other night, we hit the crossbar three times in the first half and the post twice. Tonight Liz’s goal dribbled off the side of her foot and it went into the side panel of the net. We hadn’t been getting those types of goals, so it was good to see that one go in.”

It is the fourth WPIAL championship for the Tigers and their first in Class 4A.

Moon struck again when Lauren Muhanna hit a shot that deflected off a Seneca Valley defender and into the net for an own goal. Muhanna added another one in the 32nd minute.

Hailey Longwell scored in the 49th minute for the Tigers.

To go along with the scoring, Moon’s stingy backline finished the district playoffs with three clean sheets. The Tigers have yielded only four goals all season.

“Serayah (Leech) is outstanding in net, and she’s been working hard all year,” Pfeifer said. “Our four backs have been phenomenal. To only give up four goals against the caliber of competition that we play is impressive.

“Our girls could play for anybody. We also have two holding center midfielders in Ava (Ensright) and Kayla Leseck that do a lot of dirty work and don’t get a lot of attention. They win every header coming in and make the work for the back so much easier.”

Seneca Valley (16-4-2) had scored 11 goals in the playoffs but couldn’t solve the Tigers (16-1-1). The Raiders were held without a shot on goal in the first half but did generate some chances over the final 40 minutes.

“We wanted to weather the first 10 minutes, but we ended up giving up a bad goal and just kind of fell apart,” Seneca Valley coach Mark Perry said. “Tonight just wasn’t our night. This wasn’t the true Seneca Valley team that played in the first 21 games this season.

“You have to credit Moon. They took away what we wanted to do. They won every battle and they wanted to win a little more than we did. Once we fell behind to a team that gave up only four goals all year, we knew we were in trouble. We’ll regroup and get ready for the state playoffs.”

Moon will open the PIAA tournament Tuesday against the fourth-place team from District 3. Seneca Valley plays the winner of Saturday’s McDowell/Altoona subregional match.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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