The top Sewickley Herald sports stories of 2013
The list of accomplishments for the Quaker Valley and Sewickley Academy sports programs over the past year is undeniably impressive — a PIAA title, a Penguins Cup, WPIAL titles, section championships and playoff berths.
The following is a look at the top stories produced by the Quakers and Panthers in 2013:
1. State champion
The Sewickley Academy boys soccer team got a taste of Hershey in 2012.
In 2013, the Panthers walked away with the ultimate prize.
The Panthers defeated Mountain View, 4-2, to capture the PIAA Class A title for the first time since 1997. The Eagles defeated Sewickley Academy, 1-0, for the state title last year.
“It means a lot,” Sewickley Academy coach James Boone said. “And not just to the team but the school and community. This is my fifth year as a coach here and second as the head coach. I have known a lot of these players since they were in eighth grade since I had coached the middle school and JV teams. We knew this group would be a good one.”
Sewickley Academy finished the season on a 14-game win streak after falling to Mercyhurst Prep, 4-0, on Sept. 28.
The 21-3 Panthers dominated Section 5-A with a 10-0 mark before entering the WPIAL playoffs, where they defeated Riverview, 2-1, and Serra Catholic, 6-0, en route to a 3-0 win over Beaver County Christian in the WPIAL title game.
Sewickley Academy downed Mercyhust Prep, 2-1, and North Star, 5-0, in the state playoffs to reach the PIAA championship game.
The state title was the final impressive accomplishment by the team's 12 seniors — David Batleon, J.P. Bowell, Erik Dietrich, Ben DiNardo, Mike Ganz, Keegan MacDougall, Jack Matten, Grady Moyer, Steve Munn, Tom Pregel, Anthony Stinson and Connor Zierden — on the roster. Their tenure included a 64-20-4 mark with four WPIAL playoff berths, three PIAA playoff appearances and two state title games.
2. Gridiron Glory
The Quaker Valley football team accomplished something in 2013 that hadn't been done since the senior members were entering preschool — they got a playoff win.
The Quakers defeated New Brighton, 29-15, in the first playoff game in the history Chuck Knox Stadium. The win over the Lions was just an exclamation point on a special season.
The team started the season 5-0 for the first time since the early 1980s before falling to eventual PIAA champion South Fayette, 49-15, on Nov. 4.
The regular season was highlighted by a 40-14 thrashing of usual Class AA power Seton-La Salle on Nov. 11. After a 27-16 nonconference loss to Ellwood City on Nov. 25, the Quakers finished the regular season 7-2 with a 7-1 record in the Century Conference to finish in second place.
The Quakers fell in the quarterfinals of the Class AA playoffs to eventual WPIAL runner-up Aliquippa, 43-26.
“I hope to look back and say this was the year we turned the corner and took the next step in developing the football program,” coach John Tortorea said. “We are lucky to have the guys coming back that we do.”
The Quakers were led by junior quarterback Dane Jackson, who recorded 1,900 all-purpose yards and 23 touchdowns. His top receiving target was junior Chris Conlan, who averaged 14 yards per catch and had four touchdowns.
Quaker Valley had a stable of running backs at its disposal, including senior Gennaro Trovato (665 yards and eight touchdowns) and juniors Tre-won Marshall (507 yards and eight touchdowns), and Aaron Cunningham (453 yards and six touchdowns).
The team was powered by an veteran offensive and defensive line led by Matt O'Neill, John Bernard, Sebastian Gordon, Ethan Martin, Eric Kley and Tyler Krizan, as well as Garrett Zeigler, who missed the season due to injury.
3. Blades of glory
When it comes to varsity hockey in Western Pennsylvania, few teams can even dream of matching the success of the Quakers.
The team continued its dominance over the PIHL's Class A division with a 25-0 regular season that led to a second straight Penguins Cup by defeating Mars, 5-1, at Consol Energy Center.
In the state title game, Quaker Valley fell to West Chester East, 6-5.
The 2012-13 team was led by Connor Quinn's 68 points (22 goals and 46 assists). Adam Pilewicz added 26 goals and 40 assists, Jimmy Perkins finished with 38 goals and 26 assists and Clayton Bouchard had 21 goals and 43 assists.
Quaker Valley started the 2013-14 season strong, going 10-1. The Quakers fell to Mars, 4-3, on Nov. 26, snapping a 51-game PIHL win streak that dated back to Nov. 3, 2011.
4. WPIAL champs
After finishing four strokes behind Burgettstown at the WPIAL Class AA championships in 2012, the Sewickley Academy boys golf team made sure it wouldn't happen again.
The Panthers dominated the competition and finished with a score of 398 — a Sewickley Academy record at Cedarbrook. Burgettstown was second with a 408.
“There is no such thing as revenge in golf,” Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer said. “Last year was a great experience for the team, and Burgettstown played well. Unfinished business has been the team's theme. We came in this year knowing we had to stay focused. We knew we couldn't get too excited.”
Senior Keenan Hickton was the medalist at the event with a 74.
The team's other finishers included freshman Jason Li (77), senior Sam Duerr (81), sophomore Scott Brown (82), junior Anthony Muscato (84) and junior Chris Brown (86).
The Panthers finished in fourth place at the PIAA championships.
5. Quest for perfection
For the first time since 1984, the Quaker Valley baseball team played for a WPIAL title — and they made it look easy getting there.
The Quakers went 18-0 during the regular season and captured the Section 1-AA title along the way. The team picked up wins over Burrell, Freeport and Deer Lakes en route to the WPIAL Class AA title game.
Quaker Valley fell to Beaver, 7-1, to finish in second place in the WPIAL.
The Quakers defeated Saegertown, 6-5, and Shady Side Academy, 7-3, in the PIAA playoffs before again falling top the Bobcats, 7-0, in the semifinals.
“They exceeded all expectations,” first-year coach Todd Goble said. “No one in the community thought they would go undefeated in the regular season and win the section title or make it one game from playing for a state title. This was a special group. I don't know if they understand what they accomplished.”
The Quakers were led by a talented group of pitchers. Tyler Garbee went 8-0 during the regular season. Matt Delie went 4-0 during the regular season and struck out 40 batters. Jake Pilewicz also went 4-0 with 39 strikeouts.
6. Court dominance
The Sewickley Academy tennis teams had another dominant year in 2013.
In the spring, the boys captured their 10th straight WPIAL Class AA title, defeating Mars 4-1 in the finals. The Panthers have won the title 18 times in the 21 years since the sports was split into two classifications.
Sewickley Academy defeated Windber, 5-0, and Lewisburg, 4-0, in the PIAA tournament before falling to Lancaster County Day, 3-1, in the semifinals.
Will Kleeman and Colin Kaye won the WPIAL Class AA doubles title, defeating Mars' Josh Raymundo and Aaron Gruber, 6-3, 6-2, in the finals. The Panthers duo would go on to finish third in the PIAA tournament.
In the fall, the girls team finished second in the WPIAL as it fell to Greensburg Central Catholic, 3-2, in the Class AA title match. The Panthers reached the PIAA semifinals before losing to eventual champion Merychurst Prep, 4-1.
Senior Samantha Gohh defeated teammate senior Sidney Miggantz, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, to capture the WPIAL Class AA singles crown. Both were eliminated in the PIAA quarterfinals.
Amy Cheng and Japmann Monga won the WPIAL Class AA doubles crown, defeating Beaver's Moriag Bridges and Mattie Taylor, 6-2, 6-2, in the finals. They also reached the PIAA quarterfinals.
7. Streak snapped
Heading into the season, the Quaker Valley boys cross country team had won six straight WPIAL Class AA titles.
South Fayette brought that to an end as the Lions won their first title in program history. The Quakers finished in third behind second-place Uniontown.
The Quakers were led by freshman Zach Skolnekovich's second-place finish with a time of 16:54. Senior Luke Kropf finished in eighth with a time of 17:12.
The boys squad finished in sixth at the PIAA race, led by Skolnekovich's 12th-place finish with a time of 16:54.
The girls team missed the state race as a team for the first time since 1997. The team did have two individual qualifiers as sophomore Hannah Bablak finished in fifth (20:10) and senior Ashley McKenrdy finished in 12th (20:38).
8. Hardwood heroics
The Quakers Valley boys basketball team made a trek to the PIAA playoffs as it clinched its ninth straight postseason berth in 2013.
The Quakers defeated Riverside, 53-48, and Seton-La Salle, 62-61, before falling to Burrell, 43-32, in the WPIAL Class AA semifinals to qualify for the state tournament.
Quaker Valley fell to Lakeview, 44-40, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs. The 20-6 record gave the program its fourth straight season with 20 or more wins.
The girls team meanwhile reached the WPIAL playoffs for the third straight season before falling to Hampton, 34-25, in the opening round. The Quakers finished with a 13-10 mark.
The Sewickley Academy boys basketball team reached the postseason for the 11th straight year as it went 8-13. The Panthers fell to Monessen, 60-52, in the WPIAL Class A first round.
9. The streak continues
The Quaker Valley boys soccer team is a regular WPIAL playoff contender. How regular?
The Quakers made it 32 straight seasons in 2013.
After an 11-5-2 season, the squad continued its three-decade long streak of reaching the WPIAL postseason.
Quaker Valley fell to McGuffey, 2-1, in the WPIAL Class AA first round.
10. Silver medal
The Quakers finished the boys lacrosse season with a 13-4 record and appearance in the WPIAL Division II title game.
Quaker Valley defeated Indiana, 15-10, and Greensburg Central Catholic, 12-11, en route to the title game, where it fell to Seton-La Salle, 13-8.