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Preview WPIAL Girls 3A Final: Mars vs Plum

Photo credit: David Hague

Preview WPIAL Girls 3A Final: Mars vs Plum

WPIAL Girls Soccer 3A Final 
Saturday, November 2–  12 Noon – Highmark Stadium 

Mars (17-0-1) vs Plum (17-1-1)

PSN Coverage: Ed Rosensteel (Twitter @EdRosensteel | photography – Ed Thompson (Twitter (@Thompson12foto) | post-game interviews – John Krysinsky (@pghsoccerscribe)

 

A perennial WPIAL title contender — Mars comes into this match against Plum as the prohibitive favorites, and playing with a bit of a chip on its shoulders, especially as this same core group of players, led by Pitt recruit Ellie Coffield, came up short a year ago against Oakland Catholic in the WPIAL final.

Want to take a peak at Mars’ pedigree as a girls soccer program? How’s this…

The Fighting Planets, under the coaching guidance of Blair Gerlich, have won ten consecutive section titles, racked up four WPIAL championships and finished as a WPIAL runner-up three times.  They’ve now qualified for the PIAA tournament eight times, captured a PIAA crown and logged a PIAA second-place finish.

On Monday, in its semifinal match against Belle Vernon, it took some patience and persistence — even after sending somewhere in the vicinity of two dozen or so shots on goal — but the Fighting Planets earned a 2-0 win as Coffield and Taylor Hamlett converted their shot opportunities.

Mars shakes off pesky Belle Vernon to reach WPIAL final

Now, they enter the WPIAL final without a loss this season, and the only blemish on its record coming in a 3-3 draw when they stepped up in class to take on last year’s 4A champion, and this year’s semifinalist, Seneca Valley.

In addition to Hamlett and Coffield leading the attack along with speedy Caroline Wroblewski on the wing, Coffield may come forward at times, but often she orchestrates things in the central midfield. Mars’ back line is anchored by junior Gracie Dunaway. Hamlett is the only senior among these team leaders.

On the other side, much like its opponent it faced in the final last year, Mars will have to face a team that’s on a roll.

Plum are having a breakthrough season as a program, unbeaten in its last 15 matches, with just one loss coming earlier in the season against section rival, Oakland Catholic in a match also played at Highmark Stadium. The teams ended the season as co-section champions.

The Mustangs, who have never made it past the district semifinals until this year, have proven themselves as the second seed, with a stronger second half than its section rivals — including getting redemption against last year’s WPIAL champs, 2-1.

In this year’s playoffs, Plum finally got over the hump, and are now certainly battle tested — reeling off tight wins against Gateway (2-1), Hampton (4-2) and West Allegheny (1-0).

Plum is led by a freshman who is the team’s leading scorer: Kaitlyn Killinger who led the way with team-high totals of 16 goals and nine assists in the regular season.

Junior midfielder/forward Gina Proviano contributed 13 goals and seven assists, and sophomore forward/midfielder Marissa Liberto and junior defender/midfielder Jamie Seneca added 10 goals apiece. Emily Kirkpatrick, a junior midfielder, was credited with eight assists. Kirkpatrick, Proviano and Katie Patton, a senior defender, shared the team’s captain role this season.

Junior goalkeepers Erica Taylor and Kelly Kvortek have split playing time in net, posting eight shutouts between them.

Other players in the starting lineup, on defense, were juniors Andrea D’Incau and Sam Stewart, senior Laura Pearlman and freshman Kaley Simqu. D’Incau and Simqu also are listed as midfielders.

 

 

 

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets including 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 United States. 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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