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Healthy and happy, Shady Side Academy girls are title contenders

Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review - Shady Side Academy's Maggie Scott (3) battles Geibel's Haley Hutchinson for possession of the ball at midfield during a matchup against Geibel at Geibel on Monday, October 1, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review</em></div>Shady Side Academy's Maggie Scott (3) battles Geibel's Haley Hutchinson for possession of the ball at midfield during a matchup against Geibel at Geibel on Monday, October 1, 2012.
Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch - Deer Lakes soccer player Danielle Kearns photographed Friday October 5, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Erica Hilliard  |  Valley News Dispatch</em></div>Deer Lakes soccer player Danielle Kearns photographed Friday October 5, 2012.
Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch - Deer Lakes soccer player Nichole Kearns photographed Friday October 5, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Erica Hilliard  |  Valley News Dispatch</em></div>Deer Lakes soccer player Nichole Kearns photographed Friday October 5, 2012.

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Players to watch

DANIELLE KEARNS senior, Deer Lakes Scored five goals Friday in a 9-0 win over Valley in Section 2-AA and has 14 goals and seven assists this year.

OLIVIA BELACK freshman, Upper St. Clair Scored four goals to lead Upper St. Clair to a Section 5-AAA win over Laurel Highlands last week.

LIANA LEJAsenior, South Fayette Tallied four goals in a 10-0 shutout over Obama Academy on Friday night and scored five Monday in a 8-0 win over Carrick.

NICHOLE KEARNS senior, Deer Lakes Scored three goals Friday in a 9-0 win over Valley and has 14 goals and 10 assists this season.

MICAYLA LIVINGSTON freshman, Norwin Has three OT game-winners, including two vs. Franklin Regional, and scored a hat trick in a win over Connellsville on Monday.

GREER MONAHANjunior, Quaker Valley Had four goals as Quaker Valley cruised to a Section 5-AA win over Obama Academy last week.

Tribune-Review rankings

Class AAA

Team Rec. Pre.

1. Peters Township 13-1-0 1

2. Bethel Park 15-0-0 2

3. Seneca Valley 14-1-0 5

4. Norwin 12-1-2 4

5. Gateway 12-2-1 —

Out: Fox Chapel 14-2-0 3

Class AA

1. Mars 12-1-1 1

2. Central Valley 13-0-1 2

3. Moon 15-1-0 3

4. South Park 11-2-1 4

5. Belle Vernon 13-1-1 5

Class A

1. Greensburg C.C. 10-1-0 1

2. Sewickley Acad. 14-0-1 3

3. Shady Side Acad. 10-3-1 2

4. South Allegheny 13-0-0 4

5. Bishop Canevin 10-2-1 5

Note: Records don't include Monday's gamesGames to watch

NORWIN at PENN-TRAFFORD 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

One of the most heated rivalries in the WPIAL will decide the Section 1-AAA championship. Penn-Trafford won the first meeting, 2-0, but Norwin has outscored opponents, 28-4, since.HOPEWELL at CENTRAL VALLEY 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

These Section 3-AA rivals played to a 1-1 tie earlier this year, and Wednesday's winner will be awarded the section title. CV has allowed eight goals, while Hopewell has given up just 13.ELIZABETH FORWARD at BELLE VERNON 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

These teams have combined for just four losses, including Belle Vernon's 2-0 loss at EF on Sept. 24. The Warriors have won 10 of their past 11 by a 44-9 margin of victory.

Top high school sports

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 11:00 p.m.
 

For the first time in perhaps two calendar years, the Shady Side Academy girls soccer team is injury-free and playing at full strength.

Good timing.

The Indians were plagued by injury last season and didn't have their full lineup available for the first month of this campaign. But with the WPIAL playoffs about a week away, Shady Side Academy is, at last, completely healthy.

“It's great. We had a little trouble with a lot of (injuries) last year,” senior forward Lia Winter said. “Then a few people got injured at the beginning of the season again, but everyone's back now, and that's great to go into the playoffs with. Now, we get to play (Greensburg Central Catholic) and Springdale again with all our players. Hopefully, that will make the difference.”

At 10-3-1, there isn't much of a difference to be made for the Indians. Two of Shady Side Academy's losses have come to Greensburg Central Catholic, but the Indians did sweep two games from Springdale.

“It's been a big struggle for us the past couple years with injuries,” coach Caswell Nilsen said. “This is about the first time I've had my entire allotment of starters on the field at the same time.

“We're feeling pretty good about the season right now. My big concern is, will the WPIAL seed us appropriately?”

Shady Side Academy believes it can earn a No. 3 seed — something it might be able to do if it can beat undefeated Sewickley Academy on Thursday — to get onto the opposite side of the bracket as presumptive No. 1 Greensburg Central Catholic (10-1).

“We definitely want to make a run,” Winter said. “We hope to be in the WPIAL finals this year — so hopefully we'll see GCC there.”

The team's second-leading scorer, Winter is part of a four-member senior class that also features defender Felicia Tissenbaum, midfielder Holly Stewart and forward Mary McLaughlin. Winter, Tissenbaum and Stewart are captains.

Winter knows about the Shady Side Academy injury bug as well as anybody. She missed all but two games last season.

This season, it's been the Indians other big scorer who's had injury issues. Junior forward Maggie Scott missed two weeks but still leads SSA in goals.

Other juniors who start are Olivia Cochran and midfielder Zoe Schoen. Schoen was one of the players who was injured last season.

“We're just beginning to get our chemistry back,” Nilsen said. “We've had to move people around to make up for some gaps. I think a lot of the girls are really beginning to mature as players, which is great as we're coming into the home stretch here.”

Finally at full strength, Shady Side Academy believes it is peaking — both in health and as players — at the perfect time.

“You look at the girls, and you can see the excitement in their eyes,” Nilsen said. “That's really fun as a coach, when you know they're looking forward to the next game and to the rest of the season. It is a fun time of the year.”

Especially when everyone's healthy.

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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