With the highs of the WPIAL Championships and the lows of a heartbreaking Pittsburgh Riverhounds loss in the second fifteen of extra time in the USL Championship Semifinals at Highmark Stadium last weekend, another big weekend for soccer in the Pittsburgh area is coming up on the horizon — and there’s probably one team you may not have realized will be playing for Championship.
For that we turn east of Pittsburgh, take a look at what’s been an impressive season the Pitt-Greensburg Bobcats are having in NCAA Division III.
“Effort, Attitude, Commitment and Culture,” said Head Coach Chuck Wigle. “We have a team that understands and excepts that we must outwork our opponents. They’ve achieved some really lofty fitness goals earlier in the season and have carried that work rate and sense of achievement into practices and games.”
The WPIAL is well represented on this year’s Bobcats team and for the next couple years with Freshman Hannah Miller from Avonworth, Junior Erika Caldro from South Allegheny, Junior Allie Grimm from Connellsville, Sophomore Megan Downey from Derry, Freshman Jenna Conty from Southmoreland, Junior Andi McGinnis from Peters Township, Sophomore Alex Corna from Kiski Area and Sophomore Elise Stratil from Pine Richland.
The Bobcats are coming off a 1-0 victory against D’Youville with the game winning goal coming in Overtime of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Semifinal match off the foot of Sophomore Tiffany Michalek who is a part of a youth movement in Greensburg as they only have one senior on the roster this season in Tori Conroy.
The undefeated season continues for the Bobcats as they are 18-0-1 (9-0-1 in AMCC). This has to be one of the few times in sports history that a team with a zero in the loss column is flying so far under the radar that in the latest Divison III Coaches Poll and Regional Rankings they are no where to be found.
This is the 2nd time in program history that the Bobcats have advanced to the AMCC Championship and both have been under the direction of Head Coach Chuck Wigle in his 8th season with the program.
“We’ve made sacrifices, held each other accountable, stepped up to support one another and pushed each other to do our best,” said Wigle. “By doing so and committing to our style of play, the results just keep coming. It also doesn’t hurt to have the top two scorers in the conference as well as a goalkeeper that’s leading Division III in shutouts.”
Sophomore Goalkeeper Lauren Yoder has made 18 starts in net and has recorded 13 shutouts and has allowed only 5 goals on the season.
Freshman Alexa Fetterman also recorded a shutout in her only appearance in net this season for the Bobcats.
Chatham University scored two goals and Waynesburg University, Franciscan University and Mount Aloysius College all scored one and that’s it.
The Bobcats’ defense has been able to shutdown their opponents and limit opportunities.
“Giving up five goals is unreal,” said Wigle. “Lauren has been our rock this year and she’s playing at an elite level. Her positioning is great and she’s been so sure handed. Most importantly is her ability to communicate, Lauren is constantly directing and pushing her teammates in a positive way. Our backline has been really solid and tough to breakdown, (as well as) our midfield works extremely hard to move with the flow of play and our forwards make it tough for teams to build from the back. It’s been a true team effort and commitment to defend the way they have this year.”
Michalek, who scored the game winner in the semifinals, now has 18 goals and 8 assists on the season. Freshman Ashley Lucas leads the Bobcats in scoring with 22 goals and 11 assists.
“Ashley and Tiffany have been so important to our team,” said Wigle. “Their partnership has continued to grow over the season and they complement each other well. Ashley has a goal-scorers mentality with a very good shot. She wants to score and if you give her space to get that shot off, she will. Tiffany is creative, effective off the dribble and really hard to stop. Both are physical and defend the position really well. Their ability to score goals is really important, but their willingness to work so hard defensively sets the tone for our entire team.”
PITT GREENSBURG WOMEN’s SOCCER PHOTO GALLERY (photos from George Kucic)
As Lucas and Michalek have led the Bobcats on the offensive side of the ball, 8 players have also found the back of the net for Pitt-Greensburg this season as well to provide some scoring depth for the team.
Junior Allie Grimm has 5 goals and 2 assists, Freshman Alexsia Barlamas has added 3 goals and 5 assists, Freshman Juliana Bedoya has 2 goals and 2 assists and Alexa Fetterman, McKenzie Huntebrinker, Megan Downey, Brooke Ianarelli and Andi McGinnis have also added one goal each this season.
The AMCC Championship will be hosted by #1-seed Pitt-Greensburg at Ridilla Field in Greensburg, Pennsylvania at 2 pm Saturday afternoon against #2-seed Penn State Behrend.
The Bobcats just faced Penn State Behrend a couple weeks ago for Senior Day and came away with a 2-0 victory so both teams know what the other is going to try to do in the Championship match.
Looking back at the victory a few weeks ago, with that win the Bobcats’ clinched their first every regular season conference championship behind goals from Michalek and Barlamas while Yoder made 13 saves for her 12th shutout of the season.
Pitt-Greensburg has been averaging 137 people in attendance in 11 home games so far this season and has steadily gone up as this season has gone on. I’m thinking the attendance could be nice on Saturday as the Bobcats look to win the AMCC Tournament and earn a trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Looking ahead to the Weather Saturday afternoon, it’s looking like it’s going to be Partly Sunny, but a little chilly with temperatures in the mid-40’s. Stay tuned to Pittsburgh Weather Now for the any updates as Saturday approaches.
Both teams are looking to earn their way into the NCAA Division III Tournament and make a run to the Championship game this season December 6-7, 2019 in Greensboro, North Carolina at UNCG Soccer Stadium.