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PIAA Finals: Impeccable Mars wins, Winchester Thurston and Shady Side fall short

Mars girls celebrate winning PIAA Girls Class 3A title

For the three Western PA schools competing for PIAA titles on Saturday, it proved to be a day of mixed results.

It seemed as if Mars girls soccer team was not going to be denied all season, and on the biggest stage, facing its biggest challenge, they came through again.

Earlier on Saturday, Shady Side Academy’s girls and Winchester Thurston’s boys came up short in their bids to bring PIAA titles back to Western Pennsylvania.

Here are the game recaps.

3A Girls: Mars complete impeccable season

After coming up short in 2017 and 2018, ending those seasons in playoff disappointment in the WPIAL and PIAA postseasons, the Mars’ girls soccer team capped a pretty impeccable 2019 with an impressive 1-0 victory against Villa Joseph Marie to capture the PIAA Girls Class 3A title on Saturday in Hershey.

In the 34th minute, Caroline Wroblewski found Taylor Hamlett, who scored two goals in the semifinal and twice in the WPIAL final.

Hamlett took a touch in stride and into space and delivered a perfect strike for the goal that would hold up.

“It all happened so fast,” Hamlett said to the media gathering after the match. “Carol deflected the ball and it got through, and I just poked it into the goal. I saw the goalie coming, and I just tried to get something on it to get it past her.”

It was Ellie Coffield, one of the three Moe Rosensteel Most Outstanding Player of the Year candidates and Pitt commit, who helped Mars control and win most of the midfield play, while goalkeeper Courtney Lisman was on top of her game, making a few key save.

“This was a full team effort, regardless of what stats say,” Mars Coach Blair Gerlach said. “They are selfless, they just get after it every day and they definitely earned this.”

This was first PIAA title for Mars since 2011.

And as they did then, they shut out Villa Joseph Maria to cap an unbeaten season.

1A Boys: Moravian Academy too much for Winchester Thurston 

District 11 champion Moravian Academy proved to be too much for Winchester Thurston on Saturday, beating the WPIAL runners-up, 4-1 in the PIAA boys 1A final.

Things started out well for Winchester Thurston.

Much of the first half was a feeling out process for both sides, in the 28th minute, freshmen forward Alex Hauskrecht delivered a free kick toward the far post area which connected with senior midfielder Diederick-Paul Schlingemann — who headed in the game’s first goal.

The lead would be short lived.

It only took Moravian Academy’s leading goal scorer Austin Recinos less then a minute to deliver a terrific strike from 20 yards to level the match.

It went from bad, to worse in only a matter of two minutes as Winchester Thurston were called for a handball in the box — giving Moravian Academy sophomore midfielder Gennaro Mazzella a chance to bury a penalty into the right corner of the goal.

In the second half, Moravian Academy pulled away late, when Archie Debbage converted a shot from inside the 6-yard box for an insurance goal, then in the 75th minute, Recinos added his second goal to put the game away.

1A Girls: Shady Side Academy come up short

Shady Side Academy girls soccer team came up short in its quest for winning a second PIAA girls soccer in three years, losing to Camp Hill in the opening match of Saturday’s action in the PIAA Girls Class 1A soccer final.

Ashley Chrencik scored the only goal Camp Hill needed in the 6th minute, while Julia Raich added another as Camp Hill capped a perfect season, going 25-0-0, while taking its first state championship with a 2-0 victory over Shady Side Academy (20-2-0).

The WPIAL champions came into the match having won 18 straight matches, going all the way back to an early September loss against section rival Greensburg Central Catholic.

Before giving up the goal in the early going, Shady Side Academy were on the front foot, getting a couple of quick shot attempts on Camp Hill goalkeeper Kendal McCall.

Indians goalkeeper Molly Skvorak came up big a few times early in the match, but after a mad scramble in front of the net, a third shot, from Chrencik went over the goalkeeper while she scrambled to get to her feet. It landed in the back of the net to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.

Both teams battled into the second half with Camp Hill hanging onto the 1-0 edge.

Then Camp Hill took a two-goal lead when Raich split through the center of the Shady Side Academy back line, then beat Skvorak in the 54th minute.

The Indians weren’t able to find the final pass — and solve a tough Camp Hill defense that would post a shutout that would complete a perfect season.


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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