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Transfer student Italia Biondi gives Penn-Trafford girls scoring punch

Lindsay Dill | For the Tribune-Review - Franklin Regional's Ellen Gray tries to take control of the ball from Penn-Trafford's Italia Biondi during their Wednesday, September 11, 2013 game at Franklin Regional High School.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Lindsay Dill  |  For the Tribune-Review</em></div>Franklin Regional's Ellen Gray tries to take control of the ball from Penn-Trafford's Italia Biondi during their Wednesday, September 11, 2013 game at Franklin Regional High School.
Submitted - Yough's Leigh Appolonia
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>Yough's Leigh Appolonia
Submitted - West Mifflin's Taylor Lapko
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>West Mifflin's Taylor Lapko

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players to watch

Leigh Appolonia

Yough, junior, goalkeeper

Appolonia made seven saves to notch her third shutout in a 2-0 win over Latrobe Thursday.

Katie Felitsky

Hampton, junior, forward

Felitsky scored a pair of goals as Hampton knocked off North Hills in Section 2-AAA.

Taylor Lapko

West Mifflin, junior, forward

Lapko scored a hat trick in an 8-0 win over East Allegheny last week in Section 4-AA play.

Maddy Fowler

Bentworth, junior, forward

In a 10-0 win over Monessen, Fowler scored four times to lead the Bearcats.

Top 5 rankings

Class AAA

1. Norwin 4-0-1

2. Bethel Park 6-1-0

3. Peters Township 6-2-0

4. North Allegheny 7-0-0

5. Chartiers Valley 8-0-0

Class AA

1. Mars 5-0-2

2. Moon 7-0-0

3. Central Valley 5-0-0

4. Quaker Valley 8-0-0

5. Hopewell 5-1-0

Class A

1. Grensburg C.C. 4-1-0

2. Shady Side Academy 5-2-0

3. Avonworth 6-1-0

4. Bishop Canevin 5-1-1

5. South Allegheny 4-2-0

­— Not including Tuesday's results

best of the week

Girls soccerNorwin at Latrobe4 p.m. Wednesday

Latrobe (4-2-1, 1-1-1) is coming off a pair of 2-0 losses to Yough and Penn-Trafford and could use a win to get back into the Section 1-AAA chase. No. 1 Norwin won't make it easy.

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, Sept. 17, 2013, 11:00 p.m.
 

Italia Biondi was considering a transfer to Penn-Trafford as her Greensburg Central Catholic girls soccer team prepared to play the Warriors in a nonsection game last year.

“It was a really good game,” Biondi said of the Centurions' 4-0 victory over the Warriors. “I knew I kind of wanted to transfer, so I did really good in that game.”

When Biondi followed through with her plans to attend Penn-Trafford this year, Warriors coach Rick Nese remembered her.

How could he not? Biondi scored twice in that game last October.

The junior forward, who finished third in scoring for WPIAL and state champion Greensburg Central Catholic last year, picked up where she left off. Through Monday's 2-0 victory over Latrobe, Biondi led Penn-Trafford (4-3, 3-0 Section 1-AAA) in assists and had added four goals.

“We have a lot of people who contribute, but it's really nice (to have her),” Nese said. “She's something we really didn't have last year. We returned seven or eight starters, but to be able to add somebody (like that) — she's not a freshman coming up that we're trying to plug in. She's played at a high level. To be able to add her as a junior, it's really just a little bit of a gift that we got this year.”

Biondi's older sister, Colette, played soccer at Penn-Trafford, but Italia Biondi attended Aquinas Academy through middle school and Greensburg Central Catholic for the first two years of high school.

She knew many people at Penn-Trafford because she grew up in the area, and her friends tried to convince her to transfer.

“My friends were convincing me to come back (and telling me about) the soccer team, like, ‘They're going to be so good with you,' ” Biondi said. “My friends and the academics seemed so much better here.”

Biondi said the adjustment to Penn-Trafford was easy because of her prior relationships with the players and Nese, and the move from Class A to Class AAA was also relatively simple because of her experience playing Cup soccer.

However, she had to get back to full speed before the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee at a travel soccer tournament in North Carolina last December.

“I did physical therapy — I went to two different places — and I've been training for soccer ever since the day I could,” Biondi said. “So I feel like I'm in shape, and I feel like I'm back to the way I was.”

At forward, Biondi works primarily with senior Jordan Beretta, sophomore Maggie Mastrogiacoma and freshman Ryley Watt. But the Warriors' depth also allows players such as juniors Casey Aunkst, Kristen Swope and Kristina Wallace to contribute.

“Any given night, if we score three goals, you could have who knows scoring goals,” Nese said. “I think that we have so many tools, so many different weapons, that if the focus of the other team goes in one general area (toward) people like Italia or Jordan or Casey Aunkst or Kristen Swope in the middle, then you have those players on the outside of the field that are going to be able to get some one-on-one situations.”

Biondi also brings a championship pedigree to Penn-Trafford, having been a part of two WPIAL championships and one PIAA title while at Greensburg Central Catholic. Several members of Penn-Trafford's junior and senior class played key roles on a team that went to the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA tournament in 2011.

“It was so great experiencing that (at Greensburg Central Catholic),” Biondi said. “Hopefully, we can experience that this year and win another state title here finally.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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