Previewing the WPIAL soccer championships
CLASS AAA BOYS
No. 1 Upper St. Clair vs. No. 7 Peters Township
When: 8:15 p.m. Friday
Records: Upper St. Clair (19-0-1), Peters Township (16-3-2)
How they got here: Upper St. Clair, bye; def. Mt. Lebanon, 4-1; def. Bethel Park, 6-1. Peters Township def. North Allegheny, 3-0; def. Seneca Valley, 2-0; def. Canon-McMillan, 4-0.
Notable: The Panthers have been the consensus No. 1 team in Class AAA all season. They're ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 3 in the country by website StudentSports. Joel Hart leads the Panthers with 33 goals. Troye Kiernan scored once against the Blue Devils and twice against Bethel Park. This is a rematch of the 2011 final, which Upper St. Clair won, 2-1. Nicco Mastrangelo has 19 goals for Peters Township, four in the postseason. His brother, Mario, has 17 and two. Peters Township is in the WPIAL final for the eighth time in the past 11 years. USC is the 2011 champion but lost to Canon-Mac, 1-0, last year. Upper St. Clair owns 4-3 and 6-1 head-to-head wins.
Prediction: Upper St. Clair over Peters Township
CLASS AA BOYS
No. 1 West Allegheny vs. No. 3 South Fayette
When: 5:45 p.m. Saturday
Records: West Allegheny (17-0-3), South Fayette (17-2-2)
How they got here: West Allegheny def. Mt. Pleasant, 4-0; def. Deer Lakes, 3-0; def. Shady Side Academy, 1-0. South Fayette def. Mars, 1-0; def. Laurel Highlands, 2-0; def. South Park, 1-0.
Notable: Two Class AA teams have scored against South Fayette, which opened with 12 straight shutouts; No. 1 West Allegheny and No. 10 Quaker Valley tallied one goal apiece against the Lions. Brian Coyne leads South Fayette with 23 goals. Goalkeeper Alex Gedrys has recorded 18 shutouts. He will split time with Andrew Pine. West Allegheny's Collin Wurst scored 17 goals during the regular season and had the lone goal against Shady Side Academy. Indians defender Zach Graziani is one of the WPIAL's best players. Neither team has won a WPIAL title. The teams have played to a pair of ties this season.
Prediction: West Allegheny over South Fayette
CLASS A BOYS
No. 1 Sewickley Academy vs. No. 6 Beaver Co. Christian
When: 1:15 p.m. Saturday
Records: Sewickley Academy (16-3), Beaver Co. Christian (15-4)
How they got here: Sewickley Academy, bye; def. Riverview, 2-1; def. Serra Catholic, 6-0. Beaver County Christian def. Avonworth, 1-0; def. Vincentian, 3-2; def. Seton-La Salle, 4-2.
Notable: Sewickley Academy has won nine straight since a 4-0 loss to Mercyhurst Prep on Sept. 8, outscoring opponents 38-4. Sewickley Academy is back in the WPIAL championship game for the first time since winning it all in 2007. The Panthers also won titles in 1998, 2000, '01 and '05. J.P. Bowell leads Sewickley Academy with 25 goals and had two against Serra Catholic. Beaver County Christian did not make the playoffs last season. Abel Carleton has 20 goals and has scored in all three of BCC's playoff wins.
Prediction: Sewickley Academy over Beaver County Christian
CLASS AAA GIRLS
No. 1 Seneca Valley vs. No. 2 Peters Township
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Records: Seneca Valley (17-2-1), Peters Township (16-4-1)
How they got here: Seneca Valley, bye; def. Canon-McMillan, 2-0; def. Upper St. Clair, 3-0. Peters Township def. Latrobe, 3-0; def. Pine-Richland, 1-0; def. Bethel Park, 2-1.
Notable: Peters Township topped Seneca Valley, 2-1, in double overtime last year on a late header from Veronica Latsko, who has been out all season with a torn ACL. Indians forward Emily Franty can't play because she was ejected from the Bethel Park win after receiving a second yellow card. Raiders goalkeeper Jess Neil has a three-year section record of 32-2-2 and has helped Seneca Valley to nine shutouts this season. Sarah Anderson has two playoff goals for Seneca Valley, which rotates close to 20 players. Seneca Valley won the teams' head-to-head meeting 3-0 on Sept. 28. Peters Township has reached the past six WPIAL finals.
Prediction: Peters Township over Seneca Valley
CLASS AA GIRLS
No. 8 Hopewell vs. No. 2 Central Valley
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Records: Hopewell (15-4), Central Valley (18-0)
How they got here: Hopewell def. Knoch, 3-1; def. Mars, 2-1; def. South Park, 3-2. Central Valley def. Freeport, 9-1; def. Belle Vernon, 3-1; def. Moon, 3-2.
Notable: Hopewell's Abby Losco had 19 goals during the regular season and had all three scores against South Park, including the game-winner with 3:04 left in the second overtime. Central Valley is the only undefeated team in the playoff field. Freshman Carolina Lucci scored her 35th goal of the season against Belle Vernon. She has seven goals in three playoff games. The teams are both in Section 3-AA, with Central Valley owning 4-3 and 2-1 head-to-head wins. Hopewell is one of only four teams to score more than one goal against Central Valley. Neither has won a WPIAL title.
Prediction: Central Valley over Hopewell
CLASS A GIRLS
No. 1 Greensburg C.C. vs. No. 3 Shady Side Academy
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Records: Greensburg Central Catholic (17-1), Shady Side Academy (17-3)
How they got here: Greensburg Central Catholic def. Mohawk, 10-1; def. Springdale, 7-1; def. New Brighton, 10-2. Shady Side Academy def. Serra Catholic, 8-0; def. Avonworth, 4-0; def. Sewickley Academy, 2-0.
Notable: Penn State recruit Fran Crouse has 16 goals in three playoff games for the Centurions, who are the defending PIAA Class A champions and have won the past two WPIAL titles. The Centurions have rattled off 17 consecutive wins since a season-opening loss to Pine-Richland. GCC has scored 151 goals in 18 games, an average of 8.4 per contest. Maggie Scott has eight playoff goals and 44 total for Shady Side, which hasn't lost to a Class A team other than GCC. The Indians won the 2010 title before GCC's current run of dominance.
Prediction: Greensburg Central Catholic over Shady Side Academy