Westmoreland County boys soccer matchups for the first round of the WPIAL playoffs
Friday, October 18, 2019 | 8:19 PM
Class AAAA first round
11-Baldwin (7-10-1) at 6-Norwin (15-2-1)
4 p.m. at Norwin Knights Stadium
Winner plays: 3-Seneca Valley (13-3-1) Wednesday in quarterfinals
Coaches: Scott Schuchert, Norwin; Dave Zinski, Baldwin
Players to watch: Matt Federovich, Sr., F, Norwin; Pasi Oswald, Sr., MF, Baldwin
Corner kicks: Norwin reached the WPIAL championship last year and, despite key graduation losses, remains in the thick of Class AAAA’s top contenders. The Knights are a young team, but it doesn’t show because of their skill and depth. The Knights finally broke through last year by ending a seven-game losing streak in the first round. Norwin beat Baldwin in the season opener in a tournament at Chartiers Valley, 5-1. … Baldwin finished fourth in a strong Section 2, which includes No. 2 Mt. Lebanon and No. 4 Canon-McMillan. Oswald and Ray Thomas, another senior midfielder, lead the Highlanders’ attack, but watch junior forward Joey Mueller. Baldwin has not been to the playoffs since 2011 and its last playoff win was in 2007, 2-1 over Norwin in North Huntingdon.
16-Laurel Highlands (8-9) at 1-Franklin Regional (15-0-1)
2 p.m. at Panther Stadium
Winner plays: Winner of 8-Trinity (13-4)/9-Kiski Area (11-5-2) Wednesday in quarterfinals
Coaches: Gerald Rogers, Laurel Highlands; Rand Hudson, Franklin Regional
Players to watch: Kolby Livingston, Jr., MF, Laurel Highlands; Anthony DiFalco, So., F, Franklin Regional
Corner kicks: Defending WPIAL champion Franklin Regional, one of the most talented teams in any classification, has kept the bar raised high, posting 13 shutouts and allowing just three goals. The Panthers have blanked seven straight opponents. DiFalco leads the attack with 27 goals, and Blake Cooper has 10 scores. … Laurel Highlands takes a three-game losing streak into the playoffs. The Mustangs won two games in a row just once, in mid-September. They got into a shootout with a decent AAAA team, Connellsville, in the regular-season finale, losing 11-8.
13-Indiana (8-9-1) at 4-Belle Vernon (16-1)
3 p.m. at James Weir Stadium
Winner plays: Winner of 5-South Fayette (14-3)/12-Blackhawk (10-3-4) Wednesday in quarterfinals
Coaches: Todd Myers, Indiana; Rob Miele, Belle Vernon
Players to watch: Aaron McKelvy, Jr., MF; Indiana, Niko Apodiakos, Sr., MF, Belle Vernon
Corner kicks: Indiana hit a late-season slide, going 1-6-1 in its final eight games, but still clinched fourth place in Section 1 despite a sub-.500 record. McKelvey had a hat trick against Armstrong. Sam Fefolt has been a dependable shot-stopper in goal for the Indians. … Youthful Belle Vernon is back in the playoffs after a tough first-round exit last year — a 1-0 loss to Kiski Area. The Section 3 champion Leopards’ only loss was a head-shaker. They lost 7-0 to Trinity, a team they shut out, 3-0, earlier in the season. Belle Vernon, with just two seniors, set a school record for winning percentage (.941) and tied the record for regular-season wins. Daniel Sassak leads the team with 29 goals.
11-Southmoreland (8-9) vs. 6-Freedom (10-7)
Noon at Norwin Knights Stadium
Winner plays: Winner of 3-South Park (13-4-1)/14-Central Valley (6-10) Wednesday in quarterfinals
Coaches: Jeremy Niemiec, Southmoreland; Colin Williams, Central Valley
Players to watch: Brendan Moore, Jr., MF, Southmoreland; Tyler Mohrbacher, Sr., F, Freedom
Corner kicks: Southmoreland tied Waynesburg for second in Section 3. It returned 10 players from last year’s playoff team. Senior Noah Kinter is a four-year starter. The Scotties, who haven’t won a playoff game since 2013, have been part of 12 shutouts this season, including seven in which they were on the losing end. … Freedom played mostly teams from Beaver County, even out of section, and finished tied for second in Section 2. Freedom made the quarterfinals two years ago and the semifinals in 2016.
2-Greensburg CC (11-3-1) vs. 15-Mohawk (7-9-1)
Noon at Art Bernardi Stadium, Butler
Winner plays: Winner of 7-Avonworth (14-3)/10-Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (9-5-1) Wednesday in quarterfinals
Coaches: Tyler Solis, GCC; Micah Bell, Mohawk
Players to watch: Nate Ward, Sr., MF, GCC; Dylan Lloyd, Sr., MF, Mohawk
Corner kicks: Section 2 co-champ GCC wants redemption after losing a heart-breaker on penalty kicks to Avonworth in the WPIAL championship last year. Avonworth could await in the next round. The Centurions have the talent, with a mix of experience and some promising freshmen, to get back to the finals. Ward, an Indiana recruit, is one of the top players in the tournament, but also keep an eye on freshman Carlo Denis. Senior Patrick Brewer, a mainstay in goal last year, has been playing in the field while sophomore Max House and freshman Jacob Conti have shared time in net. … Mohawk lost four of six to close the regular season and barely got into the playoffs, finishing tied for fourth in Section 1 with Beaver County Christian. Lloyd and Ward are kickers for their respective football teams.
— Bill Beckner Jr.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .