Riverview girls hope to continue historic march through PIAA soccer playoffs

Monday, November 13, 2023 | 6:11 PM

Last fall, Juliette Brun was watching Riverview girls soccer games, including the WPIAL Class A first-round matchup with Chartiers-Houston, from the stands, knowing that she along with others in her then-eighth grade class soon would get their chance to contribute.

Brun, a defender on a Raiders unit that has allowed just 25 goals in 23 games, was in position for one of the bigger goals of the 2023 season in the second half of Saturday’s PIAA quarterfinal rematch with section rival Springdale.

Brun, who pushed up the field with her teammates on a corner kick from senior Lola Abraham in the 52nd minute, was right there to finish off a deflected ball for what turned out to be the goal that sent Riverview (21-3) to the state semifinals Tuesday evening at 7 with District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle (21-1) at Westmont High School’s Price Field in Johnstown.

It was Brun’s first goal of the season.

“Going into that play, the goal is to try and get a head on it and put it in past the keeper into the back of the net,” Brun said. “The ball bounced around like seven times in a small space. I spun around and found myself at the right place at the right time. It was a split second, and the goal was open, and no one was in front of me. That moment was in slow motion. I chipped it in as I was falling down.

“Slamming my fist on the ground and screaming, it was one of the best feelings, especially for being able to help my team get the win. For a solid five minutes, I was in heaven. But I knew I had to refocus and help make sure we did what we could to keep the lead.”

Then, with the Raiders up 2-1, Abraham, on a feed from freshman Hannah Hudack, scored in the 67th minutes to give Riverview the breathing room it needed to keep the magical postseason run alive.

A Dynamos free kick that rang off the cross bar a couple of minutes early took the breath of the Raiders faithful away. Both teams’ keepers, including Riverview senior Chiara Brun, made some big saves in what Raiders coach Sean Abraham said was a spirited third meeting between two of the top teams in the state.

“It’s said that it’s hard to beat a team three times in a single season,” coach Sean Abraham said. “Springdale came out and threw everything they had at us. We were able to make adjustments, and everyone stepped up and contributed.

“The intensity was there from the players to the crowd and the students. That was the most people I have seen at a single-A game in a long time. It was really good with the cheering and chanting.”

The fact that Monday was Nov. 13 and the team was at a practice getting ready to play a game was not lost on coach Abraham.

“It feels good to still be playing,” he said, “and the girls are enjoying what they are doing and being together for at least a few more days. They don’t want to be done. The ultimate goal is to be in that final game.”

The Raiders continue to go where no Riverview girls team has gone before. They also are one of just six WPIAL teams left — joining North Allegheny, Mars, Moon, Avonworth, and Shady Side Academy — at this point in the state playoffs.

Bishop Guilfoyle lost just once this season, 3-2 to Class 3A Hollidaysburg.

The Raiders players hoped for another shot at Freedom after the Bulldogs denied them a WPIAL title at Highmark on Nov. 3, but BG topped Freedom, 2-0, to advance.

Several BG players are familiar, having played on Hounds Academy teams and also the Pittsburgh Area Century club team.

Senior Nicole Hawk, a Pitt-Johnstown commit who missed all of last season with an injury, leads BG with 30 goals and 15 assists. Sophomore Hailey Degol and freshman Emma Marasco have 23 goals apiece.

“Like I’ve said before, anyone who we play at this point is going to be a really good team,” coach Abraham said.

“The girls did want to play Freedom again, but they will take on anyone, anywhere. Our last trip to Johnstown was good. Hopefully, this one is good, too.”

The winner of Tuesday’s matchup will take on the winner of District 1 champion Dock Mennonite (19-1-2) and District 11 champion Moravian Academy (16-7) in the title game Saturday at 10 a.m. in Mechanicsburg.

“It is so amazing to see how much this team has grown over the past couple of years to where we are right now with being one step away from the state title game,” Brun said. “To go from having no team during covid to being in the top four in the state, it’s just such an accomplishment for this team in general. Everyone here has worked so hard. We’re taking it all in every day and not forgetting that we still have work to do.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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