Canon-McMillan, SSA, Moon girls hoping for gold
Canon-McMillan has been looking for redemption.
After watching Central Bucks West tie the 2014 PIAA Class AAA championship late in the second half and tally the overtime winner for a 2-1 decision, the Big Macs couldn't wait to get back to Hersheypark Stadium.
They earned a return trip Saturday. Canon-McMillan (21-1-1) meets Central Bucs South (19-5-1) for the PIAA Class AAAA title at 4 p.m. Shady Side Academy (19-3) battles Fairfield (23-1) at 11 a.m. Friday for the Class A title, and Moon (24-1-0) battles Villa Joseph Marie (21-1-1) at 4 p.m. Friday in Class AAA.
“The girls are excited. Even the ones who weren't there two years ago picked up on the excitement,” Big Macs coach Dave Derrico said. “We've been trying to keep them focused on one game at a time, but it's hard not to look ahead.”
The Big Macs, who sit at No. 17 in the USA Today Super 25 rankings, have five seniors who played in Hershey two years ago — captains Sabrina Bryan (Hofstra recruit), Aideen O'Donoghue (Pitt), Isabel Scheidenhelm and Cheyenne Trest and goalkeeper Megan Virgin (Long Island).
“I chose those four as captains for that reason; they did have the vision and experience,” Derrico said. “Those four led the team. They wanted another shot, and they got back to where they wanted to be. Hopefully, I've learned something in two years, too.”
It's the first championship appearance for the Titans, who edged Manheim Township, 1-0, with a goal late in regulation in the PIAA semifinals.
“We've seen some of their games. They are like the other teams out East we've played. They are big and physical. They have some really tall girls, too,” Derrico said. “I think we match up well.”
Canon-McMillan hopes its offense continues to produce at a high rate. The Big Macs have 105 goals in 23 matches (4.6 per outing).
“Most of the time, our offense has been carrying us. This team doesn't get worked up if someone scores on us. They just figure they'll come right back and get another one,” Derrico said. “We're just going to do what we do best and hope it gets us where we want to be. The team is healthy, and that's a big thing. The last time we came to Hershey, we weren't as healthy as we are this year. We want to try and make sure there's no overtime this time, too.”
The Indians are in their first state championship match. A 1-0 win over section rival Greensburg Central Catholic in the WPIAL title match provided a springboard for the squad.
“Our girls are very excited. It has been an exciting playoff run for us,” Shady Side coach Mary Lynch said. “I know it has been a goal of our seniors to make it to the state championship. To make it happen their senior year is pretty special. After winning the WPIAL championship, the girls really started believing we could continue to play and move on.”
Fairfield, also in its first PIAA title appearance, has had no trouble scoring goals. The Green Knights have scored 18 goals in their three state playoff contests. Shady Side can find the back of the net, too, as it put up 13 goals in its three PIAA matches. Elizabeth Harper, a West Point recruit, and Krystyna Rytel both have more than 30 goals on the year.
Senior defender Eliza Cochran, a Georgetown recruit, scored key goals in the WPIAL title game and PIAA semifinals.
“We've come such a long way this season, and we're definitely ready to take on Fairfield in the finals,” she said.
Shady Side has 13 shutouts this season and hasn't given up more than one goal in a game since Oct. 5 against friendly rival GCC, a two-time PIAA champion.
“We're just going to continue to follow our plan and do the things we can control. We want to possess the ball and just play our game,” Lynch said. “Especially going to the state championship game, just being confident in what we've been doing will continue to work is important.”
The Moon girls face the experienced Jems, who are in the state title match for the third year in a row. They beat Villa Maria for the Class AA title two years ago and fell to that team in last year's championship. This is Moon's first appearance since claiming the Class AA crown in 2012. The program made appearances in 2006 and '04 ,as well.
“It's going to be a new experience for them. I am excited for them. We're going to enjoy it,” Moon coach Bill Pfeifer said. “We're going to have our hands full. Villa Joseph Marie has a lot of tradition and pedigree. We'll have to put a good plan together.”
The Tigers, who have 14 shutouts, are led by senior starters Izzy Engel (Seton Hall) and Emma Thomas (Dayton). Junior Delaney Smith is a Miami (Ohio) recruit, as well.
Staff writer Bill Beckner Jr. contributed. Joe Sager is a freelance writer.