Fox Chapel begins defense of WPIAL field hockey title
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Coach Jen McCrady always had posted statistical leaders inside the Fox Chapel field hockey team's locker room.
But with only two starters returning from last year's WPIAL Class AAA championship team, McCrady didn't think there would be much to marvel at — at least when it came to goals and assists.
“We've always had the stats up, but it's a different feel this year,” McCrady said. “Everyone wants to contribute.”
While no player has put up head-turning numbers, the Foxes have kept winning.
Fox Chapel (11-4-1), the Section 2-AAA champion, opens the WPIAL playoffs against visiting Section 1-AAA runner-up Pine-Richland at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
A win could push Fox Chapel into the finals Oct. 29 at North Allegheny.
“We've looked for every opportunity we can to improve and work as a team,” junior midfielder Elizabeth Savin said. “We don't think about what we've lost. We think about all the new players we've gained and what they can bring to the game.”
Sophomore defender Maggie McIlroy and Savin are the returning starters from last year's group, which won Fox Chapel's first WPIAL title since 1997 when Sammi Pitz scored in overtime to down Penn-Trafford, 1-0.
Sophomore Nicole Susi leads the offense with 10 goals. Freshman Megan McCrady has added five goals and four assists. Senior Adelaide Jones also has five goals. Seniors Rachel Wight and Taylor Banas have four each.
Senior goalkeeper Hannah D'Cunha “has been huge,” Jen McCrady said.
“We've had a ton of different players score. I can't even take a guess at who (the leader) be,” Savin said. “But it's not always about a number of goals. It's sometimes about when they come during a game and how they're scored and what impact they have.”
The other semifinal features Section 1-AAA champion North Allegheny hosting Section 2-AAA runner-up Peters Township at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
North Allegheny (12-3-1) has won 11 of 16 titles in Class AAA since 1994 — none was awarded from 1995-97 — but the Tigers have watched Penn-Trafford and Fox Chapel hoist the trophy each of the past two years.
North Allegheny has outscored its opponents 45-4. Junior Jessica Brandon has a team-high 12 goals, classmate Kailey Vogl 11.
“We are not happy with just winning section titles,” second-year coach Maddy Berkley said. “It's not good enough.”
Peters Township, which won it all in 2009, has gotten six goals from senior Georgia Gagianas and five assists from Jenna Jaworski, but the Indians (9-5-1) are averaging just 1.4 goals per game.
“Our biggest hurdle is to score more goals,” Peters Township coach Mary Rae Rocco said.
In the Class AA semifinals, Winchester Thurston hosts Greensburg Central Catholic, and Ellis School plays Shady Side Academy, which has won 12 of 19 titles since 1994, at Sewickley Academy. Both matches are at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Shady Side Academy (6-6-2) has relied heavily on goalkeeper Gabby Harchelroad, who has 116 saves.
“There were many games that we won because Gabby made amazing saves and kept us in the game,” Shady Side coach Erin Weir said.
Zoe Wecht has a team-high eight goals for Shady Side, which has won the past two titles and three of the past four. Marjorie Crimmins, Sarah Anania and Quinn Wilojanapa have six apiece.
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
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