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Kiernan, Alexander named Pittsburgh Trib soccer players of the year

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Joel Hart

Upper St. Clair, Sr.

Panthers striker scored 37 goals, including seven in the postseason. Also added 14 assists. Will play for American University.

Top high school sports
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

2013 soccer players of the year

Troye Kiernan | Senior, Midfielder, Upper St. Clair

There were times when the Upper St. Clair boys soccer team needed offense, and Troye Kiernan obliged.

Other times, the Panthers needed someone to shift back and play defense. Kiernan did that as well.

Mostly, as a result of his versatility, Kiernan celebrated — a lot. The St. Francis (Pa.) recruit played on four Upper St. Clair teams that went a combined 80-8-5, winning one WPIAL and two PIAA Class AAA titles.

Upper St. Clair has reached the state final each of the past three years.

“I think we've come a long way as a senior class,” Kiernan said. “We understand how to play. We attacked the ball well. I think the most important part was finishing. We got to the final third, and we had to finish our chances to win both state titles.”

While Kiernan wasn't Upper St. Clair's flashiest player — that would probably be 37-goal scorer Joel Hart — there's no doubt he was its most important one.

Kiernan played as a defensive midfielder. His ability to help in the defensive zone allowed Upper St. Clair's top striker, Hart, to take chances and pile up goals.

His work was impressive enough that Kiernan was the top vote-getter among WPIAL players when it came to all-state honors.

Kiernan was voted an All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, joining Greensburg Central Catholic's Fran Crouse as one of only two local players to garner such an honor.

“I was really excited,” said Kiernan, who scored 20 goals this season, eight of them in the playoffs. “I couldn't have done it without my guys, my teammates. I'm really thankful for all the coaches who voted for me and saw that I was able to be productive on the field.”

For his efforts, Kiernan is the 2013 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

What's it been like reflecting on a second state title?

It was pretty amazing. Not too many players get the chance to be there in Hershey. To be there three times in a row … I was fortunate enough to be at Upper St. Clair, to have the right guys and be part of the right team. We got it done, which is more than you could ask.

What was your favorite memory of high school soccer?

I would have to say this past state final. Because it was my senior year, which is obviously one of the most important years. Just being there my last year, to play with all the seniors at Hersheypark, I think was very memorable. To be in that atmosphere and score a goal was pretty amazing.

What was your role in the offense?

I played more as a defensive midfielder. But I like to get forward in the attack and start playing balls out wide, really get into the box to try and get opportunities to score goals.

Why St. Francis (Pa.)?

I really like coach (Mike) Casper. I think he's a great guy. He's going to be a great coach for the next four years. I'm pursuing physical therapy for six years. I like the guys a lot up there. I had a few chances to talk to them. I think it's going to be a great fit for me.

When did you start playing soccer?

When I was 3 years old. I started knocking the ball around. I love doing it, and it came easy to me. I've loved it ever since.

If you weren't playing soccer, where would that energy go?

I love football. I like watching football. I started soccer at a young age, so I continued to play soccer. But I would love to play football as well, maybe as a wide receiver. Also I love basketball. Probably another sport.

Boys all-star team

Abel Carleton

Beaver C.C., Sr.

Carleton scored in all four of BCC's playoff wins. He had 23 goals, as the Eagles reached the WPIAL championship game and PIAA quarterfinals.

Alex Gedrys

South Fayette, Sr.

Lions GK posted 19 shutouts and a 0.35 goals-against average while leading team to WPIAL final. Will choose between Waynesburg, Seton Hill and Bloomsburg.

Zach Graziani

West Allegheny, Sr.

So good he let the Indians do things few other teams could do — or defend. Two-time all-state. RMU recruit led team to WPIAL title, PIAA final.

Joel Hart

Upper St. Clair, Sr.

Panthers striker scored 37 goals, including seven in the postseason. Also added 14 assists. Will play for American University.

Mario Mastrangelo

Peters Township, Jr.

Scored the goal to upset top-ranked team in the state, Upper St. Clair, in WPIAL final. Finished with 20 goals and seven assists.

Nicco Mastrangelo

Peters Township, Jr.

Had 22 goals — five in the postseason — and seven assists for a team that made the WPIAL final for the eighth time in 11 years.

Corey McCurdy

Canon-McMillan, Sr.

One of a few holdovers from the 2012 WPIAL champs, all-state pick sacrificed his stats (five goals, 10 assists) for a more team-first role.

STeve Munn

Sewickley Acad., Sr.

Two-time all-state pick helped Panthers to WPIAL and PIAA titles. Scored 12 goals but bigger role was setting up J.P. Bowell and Anthony Stinson. Had 21 assists.

Jeremy Perez

Ringgold, Sr.

Creative and athletic striker scored a school-record 29 goals while shifting up top. Will decide between Robert Morris, Seton Hill and Waynesburg.

Brandon Walbert

South Park, Jr.

South Park's offensive key. Two-time all-state pick scored 16 goals and added 24 assists while setting the table for 40-goal scorer Justin Minda.

Katie Alexander | Senior, midfielder, Central Valley

Central Valley midfielder Katie Alexander did a lot of things on the soccer field this season.

She scored goals.

She set up freshman Carolina Lucci. A lot.

She helped her team transition from defense to offense.

But the one thing Alexander didn't do was lose.

Led by Alexander, a Miami (Ohio) recruit, Central Valley went 23-0 and captured WPIAL and PIAA Class AA titles, the only area soccer team to win every one of its games.

“They're tough girls,” Alexander said. “We pulled through.”

Central Valley claimed the Section 3-AA title, then hit yet another gear in the WPIAL playoffs.

Alexander helped the Warriors bounce the defending state champs (Moon) before beating rival Hopewell once in the WPIAL playoffs and again in the state playoffs.

Central Valley scored 114 goals this season and allowed just 20. The Warriors' two goalkeepers, Lauren Hamilton and Kerri Phillis, combined to record nine shutouts.

Alexander was the facilitator and discovered an instant chemistry with freshman striker Carolina Lucci, who finished with 40 goals.

Though Lucci is a fantastic player in her own right, Alexander was the team's offensive engine, a role that Lucci clearly benefitted from.

Like the lead pass Alexander delivered to Lucci for the first goal of the PIAA final, a 2-1 win over Trinity (Camp Hill).

Alexander said getting comfortable with Lucci was never an issue.

“We connected well from the beginning,” Alexander said. “There were never really any problems.”

Just like there were never many problems for Central Valley when Alexander, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Girls Soccer Player of the Year, had a soccer ball on her foot.

How did it feel to go 23-0 and win WPIAL and PIAA titles?

It felt great. I thought we could accomplish it the whole time. It got shaky at times, but it was an exciting ride.

You guys had quite a small roster, right?

We don't have that many players; we have 23 total. We had 11 varsity, 12 JV, and we made due.

What was your role in the offense?

I try to do as much as possible. With Carolina up top, we just started connecting in the beginning. It worked throughout the whole year. I'd play with her, and we'd get goals.

Why Miami (Ohio)?

I didn't know anything about Miami (Ohio). I was at a tournament, and my coach told me to call them. I was like, ‘I don't know. I've never heard about them.' I started talking to the assistant coach, and I liked him. I went and visited out there, and I fell in love with the campus and what they had to offer. I just knew it was the right choice for me.

How do you feel like you can improve for college?

I need to get stronger. I'm not the strongest. Everyone makes fun of me because I can't do a pushup. I can do maybe one. Probably also finishing. I need to work on my finishing.

If you weren't playing soccer, where would that energy go?

I've always wanted to be able to draw. If you saw me draw, you'd laugh; I have no talent with it. But I would try that, maybe try to be artsy a little bit.

Girls all-star team

Rachel Collage

Eliz. Forward, Sr.

A defender her first two seasons, Fordham recruit scored 20 goals and added 13 assists this year, her second as an All-WPIAL midfielder.

Fran Crouse

Greensburg C.C., Sr.

The numbers are almost silly: 208 career goals, 92 career assists. Beginning-to-end domination at the high school level. Will play college soccer at Penn State.

Malea Fabean

Greensburg C.C., Sr.

Rare member of the 100-100 club with 152 career goals, 117 assists. Pitt recruit played some defense, too, helping GCC to second straight state title.

Amber Fichter

Mars, Sr.

Her 34 goals and 17 assists carried a team that was decimated by injuries. Duquesne recruit finished career with 72 goals and 56 assists.

Kyra Murphy

Canon-McMillan, Jr.

WPIAL's top goalkeeper has 247 saves and 15 shutouts the past two seasons. Duquesne recruit made 16 saves during a playoff upset of Norwin.

ASHLEY MUTKUS

Central Valley, Sr.

Emotional leader and defensive backbone of team that went 23-0 and won WPIAL and PIAA titles. Also scored eight goals. Will play for Edinboro.

Hayden PascoE

Belle Vernon, Sr.

Led her team with 28 goals and eight assists. Finished her career with 102 goals. Three-time All-WPIAL selection will play at Kent State.

Sydney Schipani

Moon, Sr.

With Moon hit hard by graduation and injuries, the Akron recruit shifted up top and keyed the offense with 21 goals and five assists.

Maggie Scott

S.S. Academy, Sr.

True scorer led team to WPIAL final upset of Greensburg C.C. Miami (Ohio) recruit finished with 50 goals and 15 assists in 2013. Had 152 markers for career.

JESS NEILL

Seneca Valley, Jr.

Clutch GK didn't allow a goal in WPIAL playoffs. Five postseason shutouts gave her 12 for the season, 35 for her career. In three years, she's 56-8-3.

 

 

 
 


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