Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: USC's Troye Kiernan, Central Valley's Ashley Mutkus
School: Upper St. Clair
Claim to fame: Kiernan scored a goal for the Panthers in their 3-0 win over Peters Township in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals Nov. 9. He also scored three times in a 9-0 rout of Erie McDowell in the first round of the state playoffs Nov. 5. The St. Francis (Pa.) recruit scored 18 goals this season.
How happy are you with how the season has gone?
Well, we're one of four teams left (in the state), so you can't complain about that. Unfortunately, we had that loss in the WPIAL finals, but I really just love this team and all the guys.
How good are your chances of winning a state title?
I'd say I'm confident we have a good shot at it. If we keep playing hard and focus on what we need to do, we'll be fine. We have to be sure to play very defensive-oriented.
Why did you opt to commit to St. Francis (Pa.)?
I went up there a few times and I like that they have a good physical therapy program. Also, the team does very well and is competitive in the NEC. I liked how all the guys on the team came together.
What will you do to prepare for the college level?
One things is definitely I want to play the ball quicker. At the D-I level, people are physical and move the ball well. Also, I'll have to be in good shape because it's hard to earn a spot up there.
School: Central Valley
Claim to fame: At the start of the second half of the Class AA girls soccer championship, Mutkus launched a shot from midfield that bounced over the Hopewell goalkeeper's head and secured the Warriors' 1-0 win and first WPIAL title in the school's four-year history. Mutkus — a four-year starter and returning all-WPIAL selection — has been a key cog in the Warriors' backfield this season. Mutkus played her freshman and sophomore years as a forward before being switched to defense.
What made you decide to shoot that ball in the championship game?
Right before the half started, I heard coach (Mark) Perry yell ‘shoot it on goal.' I know it sounds crazy but I just tried to hit the frame of the goal and try to put it in.
What was going through your mind when you realized you actually made it?
Well, when I first kicked it, I thought it was too short. When it bounced, I couldn't believe it was going over the goalie's head. It felt awesome because it was a pretty cool way to score and our team needed it.
Where are you going to go to college?
I haven't decided anything officially yet. I'll make my decision very soon. It's going to be a D-II school.
What major are you hoping to pursue?
Education. I want to be a teacher for either a primary school or a high school.
— Brian Graham