Quaker Valley's 1991 girls soccer team to be inducted into school's hall of fame
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While the 1991 Quaker Valley girls soccer team was young — 25 of the 36 players were underclassmen — a combination of talent and teamwork led to a historic season.
The Quakers finished with a 23-0 record, won a WPIAL title and were the first undefeated squad in Leetsdale in 45 years. The team also was selected as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America champion.
For its accomplishments, the team has been selected for the Quaker Valley Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2013.
“We had a really good coach (Dom Vezza) and we all played together as a team,” said Bridget Sullivan, who was one of the team's three senior captains. “We worked together as a cohesive unit over having individuals stars. Little by little, we climbed our way to the top winning one game at a time.
“It makes you feel really proud knowing we were selected for such an honor.”
Unlike today when there are three different classifications for WPIAL girls soccer, there was only one for the sport from 1983-95. But playing some of the larger schools in Western Pennsylvania didn't stop the Quakers from starting strong, as they recorded wins over Fox Chapel and North Allegheny before opening Section 1 play with a 10-0 win over North Catholic in a game where 10 different players scored.
“We were a small school going against some much bigger ones,” then-senior Emily Bikowski-Wilhelm said. “But we knew each other from playing together because of the school size. We were able to get a chemistry quickly. Every grade had players stepping up from freshmen to seniors.”
The team scored 120 goals en route to a 22-0 regular season finish, not to mention a Section 1 title and a No. 3 ranking in the NSCAA pole.
Quaker Valley opened the playoffs with a 1-0 win over Section 5 champion Ringgold. The game was decided by a second-period goal by Bridget Sullivan. It was the 16th shutout of the season by the defense.
The Quakers then downed Upper St. Clair, 2-0, in the WPIAL semifinals with goals from juniors Ann Tirimacco and Julie McDaniel.
It was a statement win for Quaker Valley when it defeated the Panthers, who had won two straight WPIAL titles and appeared in six straight title games. The win set up a WPIAL title game between Quaker Valley and Mt. Lebanon.
The teams battled at Moon Stadium one a brisk November evening. Quaker Valley goalkeeper Liz Neidlinger recorded nine saves in the first half to keep her squad alive as the Quakers recorded only two shots on goal. But in the second half, the trio of Ann Tirimacco, Angel Vezza and Jen Tedesko began to crack the strong Blue Devils defense.
With just seven minutes to go in the final period, Liz Gaadt sent a kick in from 35 yards out to wrap up the WPIAL title for the Quakers.
“I remember the night just being freezing,” Sullivan said. “The entire school was there because election day was the next day and there was no school. It was almost a surreal moment winning a close game between the best teams in the area.”
The win made the team the first undefeated team at Quaker Valley since the 1956 football team.
While the team's season came to an end with the title game, it received several postseason honors. Poister was joined by jurors Gaadt, Julie McDaniel, Liz Neidlinger and Angel Vezza as WPIAL all-stars.
The team was also recognized as the No. 1 team by the NSCAA. The team had been ranked for the entire season in the top 10 and went as high as No. 3 before defeating No. 2 ranked Mt. Lebanon.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.
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