Riverview girls soccer team ready for ‘last hurrah’ in PIAA championship game

Friday, November 17, 2023 | 3:57 PM

Of the 140 PIAA schools to sponsor girls soccer at the Class A level, only two are left standing.

Riverview is one of those two, and the Raiders are one win away from adding the final golden chapter to an already history-making story.

Playing in its first state championship game, Riverview (22-3) will match up with District 1 champion Christopher Dock Mennonite (20-1-2) at 10 a.m. Saturday at Cumberland Valley’s Eagle View Middle School field in Mechanicsburg.

“This is such an amazing thing for this team and for us to share in it with each other,” junior Cailey Trosch said.

“I am just thankful to have this experience with them. This team and program has worked so hard the past three years since not having a team (during covid in 2020). We’ve worked very hard to improve the past three years to get to this point. It has paid off.”

Riverview punched its ticket to Saturday’s title game with a 4-1 victory over District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle on Tuesday. Senior Lola Abraham scored all four goals to give her 77 on the season. Freshman Hannah Hudak provided a pair of assists, and sophomore Isabel Chaparro also had an assist.

“Early in the game, we were trying to figure out how the game was going to go and how (Bishop Guilfoyle) was going to play,” said freshman Mary Quinlan, who has 15 goals and 19 assists this season. “But we knew that we would be OK if we just trusted our teamwork and stuck together. It ended up working really well for us.”

The Riverview defense limited the Marauders to three shots on goal. Junior keeper Chiara Brun made two saves to help secure the win.

“Beginning my high school years, I never would’ve imagined making it all the way to a state championship game in any of my sports,” said junior Katerina Tsambis, an All-WPIAL selection this year.

“But we all came together and made it a reality. Throughout the playoffs, each game has been so much fun and an amazing experience. Saturday’s game is our last hurrah for the season, so we want to lay it all out there for this one last time.”

The contest is a meeting of teams that have combined for 42 wins and only four losses. The Raiders are seeking win No. 23.

“We’ve found out a little bit about them, but it will come down to the girls doing their jobs like they have this whole time,” coach Sean Abraham said.

“We want to stick to our game plan and not let (Dock Mennonite) dictate the tempo or their style of game. We know they have their big scorer and a couple of other people who can make a difference, but we are confident in our abilities. We’ve shown what we can do, and we hope to do it one more time.”

Ashley Brown, a freshman, is one to watch for the Pioneers. She tallied a pair of goals to put Tuesday’s 4-0 victory over District 11 champion Moravian Academy on ice.

The win avenged last year’s PIAA first-round loss to Moravian.

Senior captains Billinda Leisner and Ashley Lapp are other key players for Dock Mennonite. Lapp, who battled back from a knee injury suffered last year, scored the Pioneers’ first goal in Tuesday’s triumph. It was her 19th goal of the season.

Dock Mennonite is the first girls team in any sport at the school to play for a state championship. The Pioneers boys soccer team won four PIAA Class A titles from 2002-09.

The Dock Mennonite girls also lost in the PIAA Class A first round in 2018 and 2020 after claiming District 1 crowns.

They made the PIAA tournament five straight seasons from 2011-15 and advanced to the semifinals in 2012.

Riverview traveled out to Mechanicsburg on Friday morning but not before receiving a sendoff from students and faculty in the halls of the high school.

The Raiders players got together for a training session late Friday afternoon to continue preparation for a Dock Mennonite team that has won 16 straight games and outscored its first three PIAA opponents by a combined 14-0.

A team dinner Friday evening and a gathering to watch the Pitt women’s soccer team play their second-round NCAA tournament game against Arkansas also was part of the bonding process coach Abraham said is so special about a trip and opportunity of this nature.

While many of the Riverview faithful will be in attendance at Saturday’s game, others wishing to be a part of the festivities in Oakmont can do so at two watch parties, one in the Tenth Street Elementary auditorium and the other at Vinnie’s Tavern.

The game will be broadcast live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

“The schools’ and community support has been absolutely amazing,” Trosch said. “We are tremendously grateful for all they have done for us.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.


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