Shady Side Academy edges rival Ellis School, wins 3rd straight WPIAL field hockey title

Monday, November 2, 2020 | 7:33 PM

Shady Side Academy and Ellis School are no strangers in battling for a WPIAL field hockey championship.

The teams met for the seventh consecutive time in the finals, including each of the five Class A matchups since the WPIAL expanded to three classifications in 2016.

Monday’s title contest at a chilly Fox Chapel High School went the way of Shady Side, which led by a goal at halftime and, with the help of its defense, held off the Tigers 2-1 to claim its third straight WPIAL title.

“The girls worked so hard,” Shady Side coach Betsy Gorse said. “We didn’t know if we would get to the WPIAL championships with everything going on, including starting our competitive season late. Everything we’ve asked of them, they’ve stepped up. It was a total team effort today. Every player had a role in this championship.”

All three goals in the game were scored in the second quarter.

The championship is Shady Side’s 14th overall in the history of the program. Ellis, which owns eight WPIAL titles, defeated Shady Side for the title in 2016 and 2017.

Shady Side, now 11-1, enters the PIAA tournament in the quarterfinals Nov. 14 against the champion from either District 5 or 6 at a site and time to be determined.

Ellis concludes its season at 9-2 overall.

“Honestly, I felt like we dominated a lot of that game. We just couldn’t put it in the net,” Ellis coach Amanda Rose said. “I said it was going to come down to grit, and I think we left everything on the field.”

Shady Side Academy and Ellis split their season series, and both were one-goal games.

“It always is a close, competitive game between the teams,” Gorse said. “It always brings out the best competitive spirit in each team.”

After a scoreless first quarter in Monday’s rubber match — Ellis had the only shot of the period — the teams combined for three goals in the first five minutes of the second quarter.

Shady Side Academy took a 1-0 lead just 32 seconds in. Senior forward Annabel Kuhn cleaned up a loose ball in front and put it in the back of the cage.

The score was Kuhn’s fifth of the playoffs. She scored four in the semifinal against Winchester Thurston.

Ellis answered 11:42 before halftime as senior midfielder Tegan Poerio converted a penalty stroke to tie the match. It was the Boston University commit’s 119th career goal.

Poerio went down with leg issues with 1:19 left in the game and exited the field with assistance. Rose said Poerio will be OK.

Shady Side regained the lead with 10 minutes on the second-quarter clock as Jenny Woodings, who started the play with a penalty corner, regained possession and scored.

The teams traded runs over the remainder of the first half, but no more goals were scored, and Shady Side went into the half ahead 2-1.

Woodings almost made it 3-1 with 8:25 left in the third quarter as her shot in the wake of a penalty corner hit the left side of the Ellis goal netting.

Ellis gained a penalty corner, its fourth of the second half, with eight minutes left in regulation, and on the ensuing scramble, a shot toward the Shady Side net went wide right by about a foot.

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

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