Westmoreland County girls soccer notebook: Yough peaking at right time

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020 | 4:56 PM


File Yough under teams peaking at the right time for the WPIAL girls soccer postseason.

The ninth-seeded Cougars (11-4) gradually are returning to full strength as they get set to play at No. 5 Avonworth (13-1-1) on Wednesday night in the semifinals.

The Class 2A runner-up last year, Yough brought back senior Nicole Croushore for the quarterfinal after she missed all season with an ankle injury.

“(Croushore) definitely made a positive impact, and we are a better team with her on the field,” Yough coach Dann Appolonia said.

The team is hoping to get junior midfielder Haley Lauffer back as well. She is week-to-week, also with an ankle injury.

Appolonia said the key to the South Park upset was defense and goalkeeping.

“We gave up very few quality shots, which allowed (goalkeeper) Marin Sleith to do her job efficiently,” the coach said.

The notable thing about Yough is how it has returned to the final four after losing seven senior starters to graduation, including all-time leading goal scorer Justine Appolonia, now at Youngstown State.

“Most of whom had been four-year starters,” Dann Appolonia said. “So while I knew it would be a tough hill to climb because of the time it takes for younger players to jell as a team, I also knew that we had a chance to be good.”

Yough, a third-place team from its section, is a nice blend of upper and underclassmen.

“The girls just want to win. No one is selfish,” Dann Appolonia said. “The seniors have done a good job bridging from last season, making the younger players understand that when you step on the field for Yough, there is an expectation for a high work ethic and performance.”

Sophomore Nicky Veycheck scored in the quarterfinals as the Cougars upset No. 1 South Park, 1-0, for their fifth straight one-goal victory.

Defensively strong Avonworth features Ava Wert, who had a hat trick in a 3-2 win over Southmoreland in the quarterfinals. Wert is a goalkeeper in cup soccer but shows her versatility at the high school level.

Sophomore McKenzie Pritts leads the Cougars with 20 goals. Senior Natalie Vilchek, another player back from injury, has nine, and junior Hanna Biros has eight scores.

All-WPIAL

The All-WPIAL players for this season were announced earlier this week.

Westmoreland County players to make the list include Latrobe senior Maddie Delucio; seniors Lacey Bernick and Katelyn Kauffman and junior Paloma Swankler of Norwin; junior Malia Kearns of Penn-Trafford; seniors Jillian Butchki and Izzy Laurita of Belle Vernon; senior Sydney Caldwell and juniors Sydney Kranick and Sydney Lindeman of Franklin Regional; senior Kaylee Elwood of Kiski Area; senior Jordyn Kowalkowski of Burrell; senior Mackenzie Leeder of Mt. Pleasant; sophomores Olivia Cernuto and Kendall Fabery of Southmoreland; Pritts and Vilchek of Yough; senior Sam Felder, sophomore Sara Felder and juniors Tatum Gretz and Bethany Winnor of Greensburg Central Catholic; and senior Tatum Hoffman of Ligonier Valley.

Rosensteel award

The Kaitlyn “Moe” Rosensteel Most Outstanding Player of the Year is back for a second year. The award recognizes the top girls soccer player in the WPIAL who “illustrates skill, leadership, passion and a love for the game.” A selection committee is in the early stages of evaluating players. Details of a scholarship have yet to be disclosed.

The three finalists will be announced Nov. 10, and the winner will be revealed Nov. 19, after the PIAA championships.

Mars’ Ellie Coffield was the inaugural recipient last year. Rosensteel was a standout player at Ringgold and was set to begin her college career at West Virginia Wesleyan when she was killed by a lightning strike at Mammoth Park in Mt. Pleasant Township.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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