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Sewickley Academy girls reflect on postseason run

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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
New Brighton's Maya Watkins (22) fends off Sewickley Academy's Molly Lennen during the second half Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, in Edgeworth. New Brighton won, 2-1.
Top high school sports
By Kevin Ritchart
Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

They did it together.

That's what coach Jessica Peluso will remember most about the 2013 Sewickley Academy girls soccer team.

The Panthers' season concluded last week with a 2-1 overtime loss to Wilmington at Franklin High School in the first round of the PIAA Class A playoffs, but the cohesiveness of the team and its talented group of senior leaders is something that won't soon be forgotten.

“One of the strengths of this team was its leadership,” Peluso said of her squad that will lose 11 seniors to graduation. “They were close, and they had common goals.

“When they struggled, they worked through it together.”

The Panthers (12-8-3) scored first against Wilmington, the champion from District 10, on a tally by Molly Lennen in the first half. Sewickley Academy took a 1-0 lead into the locker room at the break.

“We played really well in the first half,” Peluso said. “We may have been a little overconfident in the second half.

“We had some opportunities, and we didn't finish.”

Wilmington midfielder Kyler Lum knotted the contest at 1-1 with 13 minutes to go in the game and also notched the game-winner with a little less than three minutes left in overtime.

“She's a really good player,” Peluso said of Lum. “She's dangerous in front of the net.”

The Panthers played strong early in the overtime period, but Lum was still able to get the deciding goal.

“We played well for the first five or six minutes of the overtime,” Peluso said. “But after one quick transition, they scored the game-winner.”

Wilmington (13-8-1) went on to lose to WPIAL runner-up Greensburg Central Catholic, 9-0, in the PIAA quarterfinals.

While an overtime loss was an emotional way for the season to end, Peluso is proud of what her team was able to accomplish this season. This year's crop of seniors played in two WPIAL championship games (2010 and 2012) and a PIAA title game (2010) in the past four years.

“The seniors had an amazing run,” Peluso said. “To make it to states as the No. 7 seed from the WPIAL is a big accomplishment.”

Sewickley Academy earned the WPIAL's final spot in the state tournament with a 1-0 triumph over New Brighton in the third-place consolation game after both teams were eliminated in the WPIAL semifinals.

The Panthers, the second-place team from Section 1-A, beat Vincentian and Bishop Canevin in its first two postseason contests before losing to eventual champion Shady Side Academy in the semifinals of the WPIAL Class A tournament.

Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.

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