WPIAL Class 3A Girls Soccer
The WPIAL soccer season will see teams playing a condensed schedule. 12-14 games compared to the usual 18 games in a season. Those games will take place over a six-week period making this a season a war of attrition between fatigue, injury and motivation.
Many coaches took different approaches as to how to handle their preseason with the hopes of hitting their peak at the right time and bringing home a section crown. Some took advantage of the 2 week delay and worked more on strength and conditioning, while some kept it lite on conditioning but more technical development.
No one knows the answer but we do know soccer is here and the season starts this week.
Defending champs: Mars
Mars comes into the season as the big favorite and why not. They will be led by Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year and Moe Rosensteel Player of the Year Ellie Coffield (Pitt) and she is accompanied by Gracie Dunway (Purdue). Mars will be looking to repeat their WPIAL title run.
Then there are those who would like nothing more to knock the Planets out of the solar system. (Dad Joke) Oakland Catholic will send their top scorer Hannah Henn (Michigan State) to help gain a section title and make a run for the WPIAL title.
Not missing from the list are the Plum Lady Mustangs. The WPIAL runner up last year will battle with Oakland Catholic for a section title and look to repeat their run to the WPIAL final. Plum will rely on leading scorer Kaitlyn Killinger, All-WPIAL senior Gina Proviano, Emily Kirkpatrick (Towson) and Jamie Seneca (Gannon).
Belle Vernon looks to make some noise from down in the valley. Falling in the quarter finals last year to Mars, they return a large group that will look to take another step towards a WPIAL finals appearance. Led by the scoring group of Jillian Butchki, Farrah Reader, Morgan Einodshofer and the return of Izzy Laurita (Georgia State). Helping protect the goal will be goal keeper Grace Henderson and supported by defender Adeline Guess.
West Allegheny, like Belle Vernon is looking to win the next game to get into the WPIAL finals. They will definitely be battled tested moving into a new section with Mars. West Allegheny will be led by Mackenzie Taranto (Duquesne), Morgan Shansky (Akron) and Mackenzie Evers (Pitt).
Other teams who are going to throw their hat into the ring will be new comer to 3A Connellsville who is joining Belle Vernon in Section 2. Franklin Regional led by new head coach Scott Arnold and Sydney Lindeman. Chartiers Valley and Brooke Kelly (Cleveland State). Central Valley and Thomas Jefferson will make their push as well.
Another thing that remains up in the air, is what the WPIAL playoff format will look like. The season is scheduled to be completed by October 19. The original playoff format would have seen the Finals being played at Highmark Stadium Thursday, October 29 through Saturday, October 31, but that’s up in the air at the moment.
Here’s a deeper look at the 3A breakdown by section following realignment. (Bold: 2019 Section Champions; ^ moved up in classification, © co-op )
SECTION 1 – Armstrong, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Hampton, Indiana, Kiski, Knoch
SECTION 2: Albert Gallatin, Belle Vernon, Connellsville, Greensburg Salem, Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Trinity, Uniontown
SECTION 3: Brashear, Oakland Catholic, Obama Academy, Penn Hills, Plum, Thomas Jefferson, Woodland Hills
SECTION 4: Blackhawk, Central Valley, Mars, Montour, South Fayette, West Allegheny
Class 3A sees the defending 3A WPIAL and PIAA champions Mars (22-0-1) move over to Section 4. West Allegheny (17-4-0) coming off a successful season, saw their season come to an end at the hands of Mars in the PIAA Quarter Finals. Now they get them twice a season.
The biggest change comes to Section 2 where Belle Vernon (16-5-0) has been the dominate team over the last several years. They will see new challenges to their section dominance come in the form of the Connellsville Falcons (12-6-0) as they dropped down from Class 4A. In addition, Trinity (8-8-1) moved from Section 3 to Section 2 to round off the section. Trinity was a playoff team last year.
Brashear (0-17-0) and Penn Hills (5-11-2) move away from 4A to find their selves in 3A Section 3. Both coming from very dominate sections get no favors being dropped in with WPIAL finalist Plum (17-3-1), section stalwart Oakland Catholic (13-5-1) and Thomas Jefferson (12-7-1).
Players to Watch