Penn-Trafford girls soccer tripped up in opening round
Canon-McMillan is making girls soccer upsets a habit, and this year, it was Penn-Trafford coming up on the short end.
The Big Macs scored a first-round win as a double-digit seed for the second straight year, as 13th-seeded Canon-McMillan came away with a 3-1 win at No. 4 Penn-Trafford in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs on Saturday.
Veronica Rothka scored twice for Canon-Mac (11-5-3), and Abby Severyn scored the third goal for the visitors, who advanced to face No. 5 Gateway in the quarterfinal round this week. The win was a bit of payback for the Big Macs, who, as the 12th seed last year, knocked off fifth-seeded Franklin Regional before falling in the quarterfinals to Penn-Trafford.
Miranda Wallace had the lone goal for Penn-Trafford (13-5-0) to tie the game at 1-1, but she was the only player able to beat Canon-Mac goalie Kyra Murphy, who came up with multiple big saves to help her team advance.
“Canon-Mac was a third-place team, but they came from a really good section that has two of the top teams in the WPIAL in Peters Township and Upper St. Clair,” Penn-Trafford coach Rick Nese said.
“They have a very good goalkeeper that made a couple of big saves, and they had mostly upperclassmen on the field. We started five sophomores and a freshman, and even though they're talented, experience and having older players does a lot for you when you get to the playoffs.”
Also working against the Warriors was the team's attempt to cope defensively with the loss of injured junior center back Morgan Casario, who missed the team's playoff game and 4-0 loss in the regular-season finale against Greensburg Central Catholic.
“She got hurt at the end of the Norwin game, and she was unavailable for GCC and the playoff,” Nese said.
“Having her back next year, hopefully, will help us solidify our defense, but it definitely hurt us not having her in those two games.”
Although the early playoff loss will be a disappointment for P-T's players, the 2012 season will go down as a largely successful one for a Warriors team that won its second consecutive Section 1-AAA title after graduating 14 seniors and nine starters from the 2011 team.
“We knew we had talented younger players, but we only had two returning starters, Casey Aunkst and Kayla DiPaolo, and a couple other girls like Kristen Swope that played a lot,” Nese said.
“We knew they would be good; we just didn't know where they would fit in on the field. We have the goal to win our section every year, but to do it with such a young group was a big achievement.”
Wallace emerged this year as one of the senior leaders for the Warriors, as she became the team's top goal scorer in her first year as a full-time varsity starter.
“(Wallace) was a player that made contributions for us last year, but she played the same position as (2011 senior) Jaime Beretta, who was a 20-goal scorer,” Nese said. “She's a strong, physical player that got her chance this year, and she coupled very well with freshman Maggie Mastrogiacomo to make a good attacking pair.”
Nese went on to share an optimistic view on the upcoming seasons because of his team's talented youngsters, but he also commended his eight seniors who helped make this season so successful.
“We had so many young players get experience this year, but we also had some seniors like Amy Clegg and Alexa Williams who were so important to us this season,” Nese said.
Along with Wallace, Clegg and Williams, the P-T seniors leaving as back-to-back section title winners are Ali Bosco, Aubrey Furrer, Erin Grills, Ali Kukovich and Kaitlyn Vojnik.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.