In the next month and into early September, Pittsburgh Soccer Report plans to provide coverage of Western Pennsylvania’s scholastic soccer as the Fall season will be here before we know it.
It is our goal to see that Pittsburgh Soccer Report is a first-rate, primary source of news and information for all things relating to the Fall soccer season in Western Pennsylvania – which will include coverage of both College and High School seasons.
We will post previews in late August — and then will feature a College and High School Game of the Week — with coverage each week of highlighted games.
The WPIAL and PIAA Playoffs coverage will include bracket announcements, previews and game features including WPIAL Championships at Highmark Stadium.
While it’s a bit early — as we look forward here are some lingering questions and things to know about the upcoming Fall season…
Will Pitt see an immediate turn-around with the hiring of a new Men’s Soccer Coach – Jay Vidovich?
Vidovich brings to Pitt some very impressive credentials and experience — having won a National Championship at Wake Forest.
Earlier this year — we took a look at this impressive hire for Pitt — who are looking to shake a string of losing as they compete in the ACC, which has been year-in-and-year-out, the toughest Men’s NCAA Division I soccer conference in the country.
Turning around Pitt’s Men’s program will be a tall task, but with new facilities and a top-notch coach, they are already on the road to respectability.
Can Duquesne Women’s Team Repeat – Win A-10 Title and Return to the NCAA Tournament Again?
Last season, Duquesne women’s team captured its first-ever Atlantic 10 Championship — as a seventh seed — riding a strong defensive performance and great goalkeeping by Vanessa Perdomo.
Will Penn State Women’s Team, the 2015 NCAA National Champions be even better this year?
Penn State’s women’s team won the NCAA Division I National Championship in 2015 — They are bringing back another strong squad including a few players from the WPIAL.
Former Greensburg Central Catholic standout Frannie Crouse, a junior this year, has been a key contributor for the Nittany Lions tallying 21 goals in her first two seasons, and an incoming freshman that we may be familiar with — Emma Hasco, from Upper St. Clair.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS – LOCAL COLLEGE GAMES OF NOTE:
Some of the key College match-ups between local Division I programs early in the season:
August 19 West Virginia at Penn State (Women) 7:30 p.m.
August 21 Duquesne at Pitt (Women) 6 p.m.
Sept. 13 Pitt at Robert Morris (Men) 4 p.m.
Sept. 23 Robert Morris at Duquesne (Men) 7 p.m.
With PIAA/WPIAL Moving To Four Classifications – What Can We Expect?
With classifications going from three to four — there will be a shift forward keeping most of the same big schools in the top classification (now Quad-A), with only a few getting cut and dropped down to AAA.
Here are the re-aligned sections…
The biggest change with these revisions in soccer will see what was previously a logjam of teams bundled in Double-A classification, have now been split-up into two classifications with a few additional teams dropping down into AAA and few from Single-A moving up to AA.
From a competitive balance standpoint, single-A classification may see more improvement. In fact, with these changes, there should be a little bit more competitive balance across the board this season.
In the past, single-A had the most lopsided games as many powerhouse soccer schools that were in single-A were in the same section with teams that could barely field a team.
Will all of the WPIAL Championship Games Remain at Highmark Stadium?
Yes! With eight championship games (two additional games) — the schedule for Championship games will be played Thursday, November 3 through Saturday, November 5. There will be two games played each on Thursday and Friday, then the remaining four games will be played on Saturday. It has not been determined when each of the classifications will play.
Can Norwin Girls Be Beaten This Year?
If there’s one team in the WPIAL — boys or girls — that will have lofty expectations, it will be Norwin’s Girls.
In 2015, they steamrolled through the WPIAL, winning their first-ever title by beating Upper St. Clair 2-0 at Highmark Stadium. Upper St. Clair returned the favor a few weeks later, stunning the Knights and ending an undefeated season in the PIAA State Semifinals.
Norwin returns a lot of top players to their roster and will likely be the odds-on favorite to win the Quad-A Classification — although there will be some really good teams that will be standing in their way.
2016-2017 WPIAL BOYS & GIRLS SOCCER SCHEDULE
- First Practice Date ~ August 15, 2016
- Scrimmage Date ~ August 20, 2016
- First Play Date ~ September 2, 2016
- Maximum Scrimmages ~ 2
- Maximum Contests ~ 18 First
- Tuesday, October 18 , 2016 is the final day of section play.
Wednesday October 19 , 2016, is the final day that games may be played by all WPIAL Soccer Tournament qualifiers.
Teams qualifying for the WPIAL Soccer Tournament may scrimmage any team that has also qualified and may continue to do so as long as they remain alive in the tournament.
What Rules Changes Can We Expect To See in 2016?
You can find all of the rules changes and updates on the National Federation of State High School Associations website.
There doesn’t seem to be anything drastic in terms of major rules changes. The WPIAL coaches have to attend an annual meeting with the area PIAA officials. If there are any developments, we will share.
Will We Ever See A One-Whistle System Used in High School Soccer?
In Pennsylvania, a two-man, two-whistle system is used during regular season play. In the playoffs and other games at the higher classifications, a three-man, three-whistle system is used.
If you know your soccer, then you know that pretty much every other form of soccer governing body in the world uses a one-whistle system with two linesman.
The current high school system is pretty flawed — with many officials lacking experience and understanding of the game as they officiate other sports and they only officiate the game through the National Federation of State High School Association rules.
This dilemma has been a real test for coaches — especially those coaches who have advanced licenses and coach the game at the club and other levels.
As one coach said to me recently — the level of play and coaches have improved dramatically — but the level of officiating remains way behind.
Unfortunately, while a few other states utilize a one-whistle system, there are still many states in the U.S. that use multiple whistle system.
There seems to be little movement to have it changed by the officials that govern high school soccer in this country — and so to answer the question — it might be a number of years before we see progress in this category.
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With over a 140 teams at the High School level on the boys and girls sides – and dozens more College teams from NCAA Division I to NAIA – keeping up with all of these teams, sections and conferences will be a challenge.
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