Sewickley Academy soccer among top seeds in boys, girls playoffs
Featuring strong defenses, the Sewickley Academy boys and girls soccer teams entered the WPIAL Class A playoffs with high hopes of sweeping titles.
The boys were seeded No. 1, the girls No. 2 to defending champion Greensburg Central Catholic.
The boys began playing on Monday against California, after deadline for this edition.
“I'm not surprised we got the top seed,” boys coach James Boone said. “We beat defending (boys) champion Seton-La Salle. We beat Moon, a Triple-AAA school, and Montour, of Class AA. We tied Quaker Valley, which made the Double-AA playoffs.
“We've really proven ourselves.”
In the regular season, senior goalies Kes Crandle and Hayden Moyer combined for 13 shutouts for the Panthers (16-0-1 overall, 12-0 in Section 5-A).
Senior captain Max Proie was a standout at sweeper.
Boone was surprised at how well the defense, which allowed only three goals, played.
“I knew we would be good, but not that good,” he said.
On offense, forward J.P. Bowell led the team with 21 goals and eight assists.
Junior forward Anthony Stinson and senior forward midfielder Jake Mulholland had eight goals each.
Junior midfielder Steve Munn had 16 assists.
Freshman Geoffrey Schuchardt showed promise as a midfielder.
“We're in sync,” Mulholland said. “There are a lot of juniors and seniors playing, but we also have some freshmen who are really stepping up.”
The Panthers have qualified for the WPIAL playoffs every year since 1997. They have been WPIAL Class A champions four times, the last time in 2007, when they also were PIAA champion.
They were WPIAL Class AA champion in 1998.
Last year, they reached the semifinals of the PIAA Class A championship after finishing third in the WPIAL.
“We would like to win WPIALs, but another big goal is finishing in the top three so we can qualify for states,” said Boone, in his first year as head coach after serving two as an assistant. “We're trying not to think too far ahead, though.”
The Sewickley Academy girls team (17-0-1 overall, 14-0 in Section 1-A) enjoyed its best season since it last won the WPIAL title in 2004.
They kept the season going Saturday with a 5-0 first-round win over Riverview. The Panthers were scheduled to face Avonworth on Wednesday in the quarterfinals, but results were unavailable prior to this edition's deadline.
During the regular season, junior goalie Maggie Dewitt had 14 shutouts. After allowing a goal in the season opener at Mohawk, the Panthers held opponents scoreless for 12 straight games before giving up three goals in the final five games, when they were experimenting with new formations for the playoffs.
“We added a few offensive and defensive wrinkles we'll use if needed,” coach Jessica Peluso said.
“Coach Peluso is pretty clever,” senior defender Camdin Bartholomew, 17, said. “We'll have a few tricks up our sleeves.”
Senior Amy Kolor was a solid addition at sweeper after transferring from Seneca Valley, where she was a member of the 2009 WPIAL Class AAA championship team.
“Amy's been great,” Bartholomew said. “You can hear her giving instructions from the back all the time.
“Having (junior) Paige Simakas on the wing opposite from me has helped our defense, too.”
Kolor said things change drastically in the postseason.
“It's a different animal than the regular season,” she said. “You really have to be on top of things.”
Offensively, the Panthers were led by junior forward Melina George (13 goals, eight assists).
Junior forward Sophia Werner was second with seven goals and three assists.
Freshman forward Mackenzie Coles had six goals and one assist.
Senior center midfielder Sarah Rooney (five goals, seven assists) and sophomore midfielder Molly Lennen (five goals, one assist) also scored.
“It's been a real joy ride,” said Lennen, 15, a transfer from Mars.
The Sewickley Academy girls team has won four WPIAL titles since 1999. It was three-time WPIAL Class AA champion from 2002 to 2004.
It was PIAA champion in 2003.
In 2010, it was WPIAL and PIAA Class A runner-up.
The Panthers were eliminated in the WPIAL quarterfinals a year ago.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.