WPIAL boys soccer preview: Long list of contenders eye up Canon Mac in Class 4A

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020 | 3:50 PM


Class 4A

The contenders: Call returning champion Canon-McMillan the incumbent favorite in perhaps the most wide-open class in the WPIAL. A 25-goal scorer returns in Joey Fonagy, an All-American Game nominee. … North Allegheny, the WPIAL champion in 2016 and ‘17, has a plethora of senior talent to replace, but when has any Tigers’ team not been up for a fast rebuild? … Quarterfinalist Fox Chapel can put the ball in the net, led by Nate Lazzara. … Returning Section 1 champion Seneca Valley reached the semifinals and had a wealth of underclassmen. Zach LaValle will score a lot for the Indians. … Norwin features proven seniors Ian Brown, Brendan Ash and Nathan Bown, who have playoff experience.

Sleepers: Mt. Lebanon was a finalist but has some work to do to fill voids in the lineup. …. Upper St. Clair made the quarters as a third-place team. … Butler returns Landon Mohney and can be dangerous with a supporting cast.

Rankings

1. Canon-McMillan

2. North Allegheny

3. Fox Chapel

4. Seneca Valley

5. Norwin

Players to watch

Evan Anderson, Jr., F, North Allegheny

Joey Fonagy, Sr., F, Canon-McMillan

Nate Lazzara, Sr., MF, Fox Chapel

Joey Moeller, Sr., F, Baldwin

Landon Mohney, Jr., F, Butler

Class 3A

The contenders: Who else is at the top but Franklin Regional? The two-time defending champion Panthers are primed for a three-peat and a leap over the final hurdle: a PIAA title. Junior forward Anthony DiFalco, a returning All-American, leads the attack along with seniors Cole Kaforey and Zach Lorenz. The Panthers have 33 shutouts across the last two seasons. … Returning 4A semifinalist Plum drops down a class and should instantly become a challenger — and the Mustangs will play in the same section as Franklin Regional. They return nine starters. … Don’t sell Belle Vernon short. The Leopards return Daniel Sassak, who fired in 29 goals as a sophomore. … Trinity is propelled by All-WPIAL forward Elijah Cincinnati, who had 37 goals last season. … Finalist West Allegheny still has plenty of firepower led by Jaxson Ervin, Johnny Dragisich and others.

Sleepers: With Chad Eldridge and Ethan Sanders back at South Fayette, the Lions have to be considered a threat. … Balanced Hampton and Blackhawk reached the semifinals but need some fresh names to lead the programs into 2020. … Mars has a goal scorer in Dane Beller.

Rankings

1. Franklin Regional

2. Belle Vernon

3. Plum

4. Trinity

5. West Allegheny

Players to watch

Elijah Cincinnati, Sr., F, Trinity

Anthony DiFalco, Jr., F, Franklin Regional

D.D. Flowers, Sr., F, Plum

Daniel Sassak, Jr., F, Belle Vernon

Jaxson Ervin, Jr., F, West Allegheny

Class 2A

The contenders: Deer Lakes came so close to WPIAL glory, reaching the finals before suffering a 4-3 double-overtime loss to Quaker Valley. The Lancers have the look of a finalist again, led by All-American Game nominee Michael Sullivan (18 goals, 18 assists). … Quaker Valley is looking to reload after losing a dozen seniors, but some younger players experienced the title run. Rowan Kriebel will be a key. … South Park has a chance to make a postseason run, led by Joey Irwin and Dylan Weiss. … Zach Conti and Sam Farner are among the key returnees for Shady Side Academy, which finished second to Deer Lakes in Section 2. … Keep an eye on Avonworth, which rose to prominence in recent seasons in Class A and won a WPIAL title in 2018. The Antelopes had a young roster last season. … The WPIAL champ in this class has been either Quaker Valley or Shady Side Academy the last four years.

Sleepers: Charleroi won the Section 3 title a year ago and reached the quarterfinals where the Cougars lost to Shady Side Academy, 1-0. … North Catholic moves to a new section, but the Trojans have several key contributors back.

Rankings

1. Deer Lakes

2. Quaker Valley

3. South Park

4. Shady Side Academy

5. Avonworth

Players to watch

Zach Conti, Sr., GK, Shady Side Academy

Sam Farner, Jr., MF., Shady Side Academy

Joey Irwin, Sr., MF, South Park

Devin Murray, Sr., MF, Deer Lakes

Michael Sullivan, Sr., F, Deer Lakes

Class A

The contenders: Defending champion Greensburg Central Catholic has to replace All-American Game pick Nate Ward (Indiana), but his complementary players return, and they’re good, in Carlo Denis and Mason Fabean. That pair will have a nice supporting cast. … Sewickley Academy, a returning playoff team, has junior Alex Marquis and sophomore Michael DiSantis on the attack and should win more than eight games — its win total last year. … WPIAL and PIAA finalist Winchester Thurston faces a rebuild, but the Bears’ younger players experienced the postseason. … T.J. Cherry is back to pace Seton La Salle, which won Section 4. … Section 3 co-champ Carlynton has talent again, but it’s now in what could be a tighter Section 4. Ryon Fagon and Demetrius Howe are team leaders.

Sleepers: Springdale reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals last season. Forward Chris Mitchell and sure-handed goalkeeper Andrew Haus return. … Bishop Canevin had plenty of underclassmen on the roster last year from a quarterfinalist.

Rankings

1. Greensburg C.C.

2. Sewickley Academy

3. Winchester Thurston

4. Seton La Salle

5. Carlynton

Players to watch

T.J. Cherry, Sr., F, Seton-LaSalle

Carlo Denis, So., F, Greensburg CC

Mason Fabean, Jr., F, Greensburg CC

Chris Mitchell, So., F, Springdale

Jack Staley, Sr., MF, Bishop Canevin

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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