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PREVIEW: Freedom girls bring potent attack to PIAA girls 1A soccer final

PIAA Girls 1A Soccer Final

Freedom (21-3) vs Southern Columbia (19-4-1)

Friday, November 16 – HersheyPark Stadium, Hershey, PA – 11 a.m.


Of the three WPIAL teams that will play for a PIAA soccer title on Friday, none have ever won a State Championship, and only one have made it to the finals (West Allegheny boys in 2013).

On Friday, the first WPIAL team to take the field at HersheyPark Stadium this week, and the only girls program representing the District will be Freedom.

Head coach Colin Williams has helped resurrect the Beaver County school’s girls program around the talents of a few players heading to NCAA Division I schools in the coming years. They’ll be tested against Southern Columbia, a strong defensive team that also has attacking firepower.


We will have game day updates on our PIAA Championship Friday blog after the first game kicks off at 11 a.m.


PCN will have coverage of the PIAA Soccer Championships. The championships will air LIVE on November 16 at 11 AM on cable or streamed on the PCN App.


Social Media: @pcntv, #PIAAonPCN

GAME NOTES:  Freedom vs Southern Columbia

  • If there was an over/under for goals in this match, it would probably be pretty high. This will be a match-up of two teams that score at a pretty high rate.
  • After winning the 2A WPIAL title with the same core group of players in 2016, Freedom dropped down to Girls 1A, where they became the first school not named Greensburg Central Catholic or Shady Side Academy to win the WPIAL and make it to a PIAA final.
  • The Freedom girls have scored a lot of goals this season — including a whopping 42 in WPIAL and PIAA playoff games. Even in a tightly-contested match against Shady Side Academy in the PIAA semifinal on Tuesday, the Bulldogs scored three goals, even when they were out-possessed for long stretches.
  • Freedom’s attack is dangerous with numerous talented players. Florida Atlantic commit Myla Sharpless returned from a debilitating knee injury suffered last year, as she made it back in time for the playoffs now controlling the midfield. Her sister Jayden Sharpless, is freshman, but you wouldn’t know it by watching her play as she roams between being an attacking midfielder and forward at times. Michaela Watkins‘ is also a Division I recruit — and came through with two goals on Tuesday against Shady Side, including the game-winner in the second overtime.
  • Kassandra DePoppe, a senior, has been the primary goalkeeper for the Bulldogs, while the back line is anchored by junior sweeper Sydney Cook.
  • Freedom will look to contain Southern Columbia’s potent attack that has outscored opponents 10-1 in the PIAA playoffs.
  • The District 4 champions boast a stout defense and the solid goalkeeping of Rilyn Wisloski. 
  • To make it to the PIAA final, Southern Columbia had to beat District rivals East Juniata twice in a 10-day period, first in the District Finals, then the PIAA semifinal, 2-1, on Tuesday.

Watkins’ brace leads Freedom past Shady Side, 3-2, in 2OT to advance to PIAA girls 1A final

Freedom rolls past Bentworth, 8-2, for second WPIAL crown in three years



“Playing with my sister is honestly one of the best feelings in the world,” said Mayla Sharpless, who came back in time for the playoffs, after a severe knee injury last season. “My whole season, I just want to come back and share a few minutes with her even if I’m not 100%, just to share a few minutes with her. Every goal she scores I get excited for her as much as when I score. Honestly, it’s amazing.”

When asked about the short turn-around between games.

“I don’t think they care,” Williams said. “We’re getting the bus ready, and we’re going to Hershey. We’re very excited.”


John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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