Sewickley, neighboring Quaker Valley soccer teams prepare for playoffs
Three decades and counting.
That's how long it's been since the Quaker Valley boys soccer team has missed out on WPIAL postseason play.
The Quakers — under the direction of coach Gene Klein — are headed to the playoffs for the 32nd straight year and will have a chance to defend their 2012 WPIAL Class AA title.
This year's version of the Quakers finished third in Section 5-AA with an 8-3-1 mark and entered play this week having not lost a game since Sept. 21, posting a 5-0-1 record in that span.
Quaker Valley's record at the start of this week was 10-4-2. The Quakers were scheduled for a nonsection contest against Moon at Highmark Stadium in Station Square on Tuesday night to cap off the regular season.
After two months of tight battles with section rivals West Allegheny, South Fayette and Montour, the Quakers are primed and ready for the rigors of the one-and-done nature of the WPIAL playoffs, according to their coach.
“Our section is one of the most competitive in the WPIAL,” Klein said. “It forces you to get better.”
Three tough losses during the first half of the section schedule sent the Quakers to the practice field with a renewed sense of purpose and a goal of reaching the WPIAL postseason.
“We needed to be completely devoted to stay in the playoffs,” Klein said. “(The kids) needed to step up. The way they finished demonstrates the commitment these kids have.”
Leading the way for Quaker Valley in the second half were senior goalkeeper Winter Fondi and junior defender Matt Delie, whom Klein touts as among the top players in the WPIAL at their positions.
“They showed mental toughness in games and in practice,” Klein said of his team captains. “The important thing is everyone else raised their level of play, also.
“That allowed is to stay in games and find ways to win.”
The Panthers (12-3 overall, 9-0 in section play) entered this week already having clinched the Section 5-A championship, and they've done so in impressive fashion.
Ten of Sewickley Academy's 12 victories have come via shutout.
The Panthers likely will be the top seed in the Class A tournament when the WPIAL playoff pairings are announced this week.
The Quaker Valley girls soccer team enters postseason play with just a single blemish on its record: a 3-1 loss to Section 5-AA rival Moon on Oct. 5.
The Quakers and Tigers concluded the regular season with overall records of 17-1 and section marks of 13-1, which earned them a share of the section title.
Quaker Valley has been stout defensively this season, giving up less than one goal per game.
The Sewickley Academy girls (9-5-3 overall, 9-2-3 in section play) entered this week in second place in Section 1-A, but a section title was still a possibility.
A loss or tie by section leader Neshannock in Tuesday night's season finale against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart could have vaulted the Panthers into the top spot in Section 1-A. The game ended too late for this edition.
Sewickley Academy and Neshannock have played a pair of tight contests this season: a scoreless tie on Sept. 16 and a 1-0 victory by the Panthers on Oct. 2.
Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.