PT, BP, USC headline Almanac Elite Eleven List
When two-time Almanac MVP Veronica Latsko suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament tear in her knee back on May 19, all bets were off regarding Peters Township’s retaining its WPIAL crown and capturing an unprecedented fourth straight state championship.
However, the Lady Indians made a strong run at defending their titles. In the process, they also raised the level of their competition as Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair proved worthy adversaries. Both reached the Final Four in the District 7 tournament. Additionally, Canon-McMillan proved a deserving opponent in Section 5-AAA.
Hence, it comes as no surprise that these teams dominate the Almanac Elite Eleven list for girls’ soccer with BP’s Tatiana Ruzzini headlining the unit as MVP (see related article) and Pat Vereb garnering Coach of the Year laurels for leading Peters Township back to the district finals.
Ironically, while Latsko sat out the 2013 campaign, Megan Parker made a triumphant return to the nets for the Lady Indians. The senior goalkeeper, who missed last year’s state championship run as she recovered from ACL surgery, recorded 15 shutouts and surrendered no goals in section play. During the post-season, she recorded consecutive shutouts and came up with big saves during shootout wins against Pine-Richland and Bethel Park.
“Megan had an unbelievable season and playoff run,” said Vereb. “She led our team and had a tremendous showing after recovery from a year off with the ACL injury.”
Parker was one of three Lady Indians to gain all-WPIAL honors. The other two were Emily Franty and Laurel Carpenter. All gained all-section laurels as well and guided PT to a 16-6-1 record and a runner-up showing in the WPIAL, falling, 1-0, to Seneca Valley in the championship match at Highmark Stadium. The Lady Indians also lost, 2-0, to the Raiders in the quarterfinals of the PIAA tournament.
A senior forward, Franty fired in nine goals and dished up six assists for the Lady Indians. “Emily was the emotional leader on our team,” said Vereb. “She concluded her career captaining us to the WPIAL finals.”
Though just a junior, Carpenter did so while struggling with a broken bone in her leg. According to Vereb, the central midfielder saved her best soccer for the playoffs. PT’s playmaker, she led the team with 10 assists. Carpenter also scored six goals. “Laurel was the quarterback of our team,” Vereb said.
Halle Hammer played that role for Bethel Park. The junior gained all-WPIAL honors as a midfielder. She exploded for 20 goals and racked up 11 assists as she helped the Lady Hawks to a second straight appearance in the Final Four of the WPIAL tournament and an 18-4-1 overall record.
“Most of our quality chances in the attacking zone come through Halle,” said BP head coach Jonathan Gentile. “She is also integral in defending and scoring off of our set pieces.”
While Olivia Belack and Emma Hasco proved the 1-2 punch on offense for Upper St. Clair, Sami Lackner anchored the defense. The trio also combined forces to rally the Panthers from a mid-season slump to clinch a playoff berth in their final Section 5-AAA clashes. USC battled Peters Township to a scoreless tie and blanked Chartiers Valley, 2-0, in those pivotal frays.
Once in the WPIAL tournament, USC upset Baldwin, 3-1, and Fox Chapel, 2-1, thanks to goals by Hasco and Belack to reach the District 7 Final Four. The Panthers lost their bid to return to their championship ways of 2011, falling 3-0 to Seneca Valley. USC ended its season at 11-7-2 after a 1-0 loss to Bethel Park in the District 7 consolation match.
While Lackner shared in six shutouts, she made her biggest play in the win against the Foxes. The sweeper cleared a sure-goal from the mouth of the net to preserve the Panthers’ victory.
In Section 5-AAA, Canon-McMillan finished runner-up to Peters Township, posting a 6-2-2 record. After shocking Norwin, 1-0, in the first round of the playoffs, the Lady Macs succumbed to Seneca Valley, 2-0, and finished the season at 13-4-3 overall.
Francesca Scenna and Kyra Murphy proved to be two critical cogs in CM’s success this season.
A senior, Scenna captained the Lady Macs. The central defender shared in the team’s 10 shutouts. She also helped the CM defense tie a school record when the unit allowed only 13 goals throughout the 2013 campaign.
“Francesca organized and controlled our defense,” said CM head coach Dave Derrico. “She was our emotional leader and she outworked opponents.”
Scenna, who earned all-district honors, also contributed to the Lady Macs’ offense. The two-time all-section selection scored three goals and dished up four assists.
Just a junior, Murphy earned her second straight all-WPIAL honor as well as second all-section achievement. The goalkeeper made 147 saves and recorded eight shutouts. She pulled double duty for the Lady Macs in their playoff win against Norwin. She scored a penalty kick and also made a critical save in goal during the overtime shootout. Murphy only allowed 13 goals, two of which came in games against Peters Township and two against Seneca Valley, the WPIAL finalists.
Though Chartiers Valley missed its opportunity to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs, tying Canon-McMillan, 2-2, and falling to Peters Township, 1-0, and Upper St. Clair, 2-0, in their final three Section 5-AAA matches, Morgan Henderson did not. In her first season of varsity action, she left her mark on the WPIAL.
The freshman midfielder scored 20 goals and claimed Almanac Rookie of the Year honors. “Morgan started a lot of our offense through winning the ball in the air,” said Douglass.
While Henderson is beginning her career, Kara Touscany capped an amazing stint as a four-year starter for Mt. Lebanon. The senior midfielder earned all-section and all-WPIAL honors. She led the Blue Devils to the WPIAL playoffs, where they dropped a 2-0 decision to Fox Chapel in the first round of action. Touscany tallied 16 goals and accumulated 12 assists this season.
“An awesome ball winner and distributor,” said Lebo head coach Aaron Panczyk, “Kara will be difficult for us to replace.”
Wayne Capra will also find replacing Micaela Mitchell on the South Fayette defense a difficult task. The senior earned all-section as well as all-WPIAL recognition. She has been captain for the Lions the past two seasons and a four-year starter.
Mitchell led the Lions to a playoff appearance, where they lost, 1-0, to Belle Vernon in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA tournament and finished 10-8-1 on the year.
“Micaela was a major reason why we made the playoffs this season with only two senior starters,” said Capra. “She was a great leader and excellent at attacking out of the back.”
In addition to sharing in six shutouts, Mitchell contributed two goals and three assists to the offense.
Among the players garnering honorable mention are:
• Julianna Hart. The senior midfielder guided Bishop Canevin to a section title and a WPIAL Class A playoff appearance. After compiling a 13-1 slate in Section 3 and racking up 12 shutouts, the Crusaders succumbed to Sewickley Academy, 1-0, and finished the year at 16-3-1 overall. For her efforts, Hart gained all-WPIAL honors.
• Jess Horgan, Lindsay Boss, Rachel Gaddis, Alexis Machi and Laura Page. This quintet from Bethel Park anchored a defense that combined for 15 shutouts. Page started in goal, recording seven shutouts, but suffered an ACL injury midway through the year. Tara Nath then stepped in and racked up the remaining eight shutouts. Both allowed just four goals against as BP surrendered only eight tallies all season.
• Abby Gillespie, Allie Thomas and Allison Oddi. These three underclassmen are expected to continue Canon-McMillan’s tradition of winning. The Lady Macs have reached the quarterfinals in the WPIAL tournament for the last six seasons. They finished runner-up to Peters Township in Section 5-AAA with a 6-2-2 record. After falling to Seneca Valley, 2-0, in the WPIAL playoffs, CM finished 13-4-3 overall.
A junior, Gillespie anchored a defense that tied the school record of 13 goals allowed in one season. The captain helped CM secure 10 shutouts while supplying one goal and four assists to the offense. “Abby helped organize and control our defense,” said head coach Dave Derrico. “She outworked opponents.”
A sophomore, Thomas led the team with 19 assists. The center midfielder also racked up seven goals. “Allie controlled the air in the midfield, particularly in critical games,” said Derrico. “Plus, she was a very good distributor of the ball.”
A junior, Oddi also served as a team captain. The midfielder produced five goals and supplied 12 assists. “Allison is a hard worker with good vision and good distribution skills,” said Derrico.
• Emily Tolmer, Katie Glausser, Heather Schmidt, Valerie Mutschler and Skyler Martz. This group helped Chartiers Valley compile an 11-5-1 record under new head coach William Douglass. The Colts fell one game short of making the playoffs.
Tolmer and Glausser played center backs and solidified a defense that only allowed eight goals all season. Schmidt and Mutschler were “rocks” in the midfield and helped distribute the ball to the forwards. Martz recorded 10 shutouts.
• Anna Miller, Taylor Oberle, Elena Marzina and Leah Graf. This foursome helped Mt. Lebanon to a third-place finish in Section 4-AAA and a playoff appearance.
A senior, Miller earned all-section acclaim on defense. Lebo recorded eight shutouts. “Anna is held in high regard as a top tier defensive player,” said Lebo skipper Aaron Panczyk. “She was steady and did her job extremely well. Players like her don’t come around too often. Anna was a great leader for our otherwise young back line.”
A junior, Oberle gained all-section honors. The midfielder scored seven goals and collected 10 assists. “Her presence created trouble for opposing teams,” said Panczyk. “Taylor is a very smart player with good vision and a high work rate.”
Marzina completed the midfield unit, says Panczyk. “She was the glue that held our midfield together.”
Though only a sophomore, Graf started every game for the Lebo ladies at the left, marking back spot. “Leah is full of composure,” Panczyk said. “She is smart, limiting her touches and keeping the back four intact.”
• Carly Johns, Maddie Santo, Riley Partyka, Madeline LaVigna and Mariah Vucich—This quintet helped Peters Township return to the WPIAL finals despite a season frought with injuries. Santo and Partyka helped anchor the forward line while Johns and LaVigna shared duties on defense and offense as well. A sophomore, Vucich was the center defender on a unit that produced 15 shutouts and did not allow a goal in section action.
• Cassie Manion and Kirstine Nutter—Although Seton-La Salle posted a 4-11-2 record, this duo proved the bright spots for the Lady Rebels.
A four-year starter, Manion again led the team in assists for the third season in a row. The team captain also produced two goals. Named all-section, she will play college soccer at Belmont Abbey next season. “Cassie has been an important part of our team for four years,” stressed Brooke Mangis. “She is a strong and skilled forward. Plus, she is terrific at taking free kicks.”
A senior defender and captain, Nutter was designated SLS MVP. “Kristine was the leader of our defense,” Mangis said “She has our most consistent player. She will be greatly missed next year.”
• Chelsae Hughes, Jen Byham, Corrine Loffler, Maggie Pine, Natalie Caraway. These players are five more reasons why South Fayette advanced to the Class AA playoffs.
A three-year starter, Hughes served as a team captain. The midfielder gained all-section honors. She scored 11 goals and added three assists. According to head coach Wayne Capra, Hughes controlled the midfield while being surrounded by younger less experienced players. “She was a superb leader.”
Both Byham and Loffler served as junior defenders while Loffler excelled in the midfield. A sophomore, Pine produced three goals and four assists from her midfield slot.
A sophomore goalkeeper Caraway recorded 6 shutouts. In seven other matches, she gave up only one goal.
• Brianna Erdman—This junior helped anchor the Upper St. Clair midfield.
Players to watch
Among the Players To Watch include:
• Deesha Reed—This sophomore spearheaded Bishop Canevin’s run to a Section 3-A title. In addition to helping the Lady Crusaders post a 13-1 mark, Reed helped them reach the WPIAL playoffs and finish 16-3-1 overall.
• Marisa Johnson. This Bethel Park freshman scored four goals, including the gamewinner against Upper St. Clair in the WPIAL consolation contest that vaulted the Lady Hawks into the PIAA tournament. Johnson finished with three assists.
• Sabrina Bryan, Aideen O’Donoghue, Ally Walker, Cheyenne Trest, Megan Virgin and Alena Poljak. All are underclassmen and a reason why Canon-McMillan, which loses one starter, is expected to improve upon a 14-3-3 slate in 2014.
A freshman, Bryan scored 16 goals and picked up six assists. Those numbers could have been much higher but head coach Dave Derrico chose to sub for Bryan after she scored two goals in several games. “Sabrina is very quick,” he said. “She has great individual skills and is dangerous from anywhere around the 18-yard box.”
A freshman, O’Donoghue tallied seven goals and added six assists for the Lady Macs.
A sophomore defender, Walker managed three goals and one assist on offense.
A freshman midfielder, Trest supplied two goals and six assists to CM’s attack.
A freshman, Virgin recorded two shutouts in goal. She also scored two goals in the field.
A sophomore midfielder, Poljak produced a goal and seven assists. She also scored a penalty kick in CM’s 1-0 shootout win over Norwin in the WPIAL playoffs.
• Blair Proteau. This freshman is going to be a top-level defender, predicts Mt. Lebanon head coach Aaron Panczyk. Proteau started every game at center back. “Blair showed a great deal of ability and maturity that belies her age,” Panczyk said.
• MacKenzie Gentile and Andi McGinnis. Both are freshman and should contribute to Peters Township’s continued success.
• Jayna Fittipaldo—This South Fayette freshman earned all-section honors for her play in the midfield. She exploded for 16 goals and 12 assists this season. “She had a superb year,” said Wayne Capra. “Without question, she will be a force for three more years.”
PT, BP, USC headline Almanac Elite Eleven List
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