Quaker Valley, Sewickley Academy girls soccer teams seek return to postseason
After successful seasons in 2012, both the Quaker Valley and Sewickley Academy girls soccer teams are looking to keep the momentum going after small graduation classes.
The Panthers need to replace four graduates from the 2012 squad. The team finished its season 21-2-1 overall, with its only losses coming in the WPIAL Class A title game, 2-0 to Greensburg Central Catholic, and in the PIAA quarterfinals, 3-1, to Shady Side Academy.
The long playoff run along with a WPIAL and PIAA title game appearances in 2010 makes this one of the most experienced teams Sewickley Academy has seen in some time.
“I think being a runner-up those two seasons will inspire them to do better,” coach Jessice Peluso said.
The team's leading scorers from last season — seniors Sophia Werner and Malina George as well as sophomore Mackenzie Coles — all return to give the Panthers a strong offense.
Of the four grads, two were starting defenders. The return of seniors Katelyn Ripple and Paige Simakas, along with senior goalkeeper Maggie DeWitt, should keep the defensive intensity up as Sewickley Academy kept 17 of its opponents off the scoreboard.
Peluso said her squad will need to contend with an experienced Mohawk squad, not to mention Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Quigley, if it wants to win its third straight Section 1-A title.
Outside of the section, the Panthers will be playing one of their most difficult schedules in recent memory. Sewickley Academy will prepare itself by facing Class AA teams such as Quaker Valley, Moon and Hopewell and Class AAA Fox Chapel.
“Last season, we went undefeated until the WPIAL title game,” Peluso said. “We scheduled some bigger schools to test ourselves. It should help us for the playoffs because it will allow us to see where our weaknesses are.”
Quaker Valley, meanwhile, finished the 2012 regular season with a 15-2-1 overall mark and a 12-2 record in Section 5-AA, second only to Moon's 14-0 mark.
The Quakers downed Highlands, 3-0, in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs before falling to eventual WPIAL Class AA champion Mars, 2-0, in the quarterfinals.
Quaker Valley will need to replace three starting spots due to graduation but returns plenty of talent to fill the holes.
The team returns offensive threats in senior Greer Monahan (23 goals) and sophomore Moriah Wigley (17).
Three of the four Quakers on the back line also return. Seniors Sammie Pugh and Allegra Menniti will lead the defensive unit while Bryn Tomczak returns after a strong freshman season.
“Our team concept starts with them,” coach Michael Pastor said. “They are a good foundation for the style we play.”
Quaker Valley did lose a starting goalie to graduation but returns junior Molly Harkins who saw the field at times last season.
The returning talent will be needed as the Quakers compete in a tough Section 5-AA. Defending PIAA champion Moon will look to continue its success from last season despite losing nine seniors.
Quaker Valley also will have to contend with Montour, South Fayette, West Allegheny and Keystone Oaks for one of the section's three playoff spots.
Pastor didn't want to lay out a list of things he hopes to see this team accomplish but said his main goal for them is to play their best.
“I don't put goals like a state or WPIAL title out there,” Pastor said. “I will let them form their own goals. Whether those are a section or WPIAL title or whatever, I will do everything from my end to help them reach those goals.”
Sewickley Academy will get its season under way Aug. 31 when it travels to Hopewell for an 11:30 a.m. start. Quaker Valley will begin its season at the Avonworth Tournament the same day when it faces OLSH at 2:30 p.m.