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Sharpless Stays On Target: North Catholic wins back-to-back titles

File Photo Courtesy of David Hague
WPIAL Girls Soccer Class 2A Final

FINAL: North Catholic 1, Avonworth 0 

Match Summary

In a battle of section rivals, North Catholic won its second consecutive WPIAL Girls 2A soccer championship, 1-0, beating Avonworth at Gateway High School on Saturday afternoon.

And once again, the Trojans (13-2-0) decisive goal came off the foot of Jayden Sharpless on a free kick. This time, Sharpless’ winning strike came in the match’s 35th minute.

Ed Thompson Photo Gallery 

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How It Happened

North Catholic came into this final as the defending champ. Standing in their way was a new face to the finals this year, the ladies from Avonworth. 

The section foes tied in their first match up 0-0 and North Catholic won the second match 2-1 handing the Antelopes their only loss of the season.

In the early going of this match, Avonworth almost stuck the first goal but they found the crossbar from a shot around 20 yards out.

North Catholic took the majority of possession in the first half but never getting a dangerous chance outside of a free kick from Georgia State commit Jayden Sharpless.

Avonworth would have a free kick of their own — with Ava Wert sending her shot over the crossbar as the match remained scoreless.  

On its third free kick of the game in the 35th minute, Sharpless, who scored the game winner in overtime in last year’s final against Yough, made this one count by driving her shot under the crossbar to make it 1-0 North Catholic. 

Primary chances for both sides continued to come from set pieces, as Avonworth would get a free kick just a few yards outside of the box early in the second half. Mia Burens would send a ball into the box to Kent State commit Joey Skillen, who found room to head the ball but it hit the woodwork.

The Antelopes continued to bring more pressure. Moments later Mia Burens got behind the North Catholic back line, but goalkeeper Andrea Bean timed her slide right and knocked the ball away to deny a shot opportunity that kept the score 1-0.

As the second half came to a close, North Catholic would hold on — and be crowned Class 2A champions for the second straight year. 

North Catholic will take on District 9 champion Redbank Valley November 14th at a site TBD.


Gameday Updates

Look for updates to be posted here throughout the match.

Ed Thompson (photography) and Ed Rosensteel (reporting) will be there, so be sure to follow them on Twitter.


58′ – North Catholic’s Andrea Bean with a big save on a breaking Mia Burens to keep it 1-0


Preview / Key Storylines 

Out of all of the WPIAL finalists this year across all classifications, Avonworth’s girls soccer team have flown furthest under the radar at the start of the playoffs.

This is a team that quietly navigated their way through an 8-1-1 section record, with its only loss and draw coming against the defending WPIAL champions North Catholic, which pushed Avonworth down the pecking order as a 5-seed.

In the 2A playoffs, Head Coach J.C. Mahon’s Antelopes have reeled off impressive wins against Deer Lakes (3-1), at Southmoreland (3-2) and last year’s runner-up, Yough (3-0).

Leading the way for Avonworth has been Ava Wert who’s scored 22 goals this season. Wert came up big in the win at Southmoreland, scoring a first-half hat trick, then she scored the first goal in the semifinal win vs Yough that opened things up for a decisive victory.

Ava Wert’s hat trick leads Avonworth to 3-2 win vs Southmoreland

In the previous two matches, there wasn’t a lot of separation between these two teams. The first match played to a 0-0 draw, while North Catholic took the return match, 2-1.

Under the direction of head coach Emily Karr, North Catholic won its first-ever WPIAL girls soccer title last year in a grudge match against Yough, when Jayden Sharpless hit the game winner on a free kick.

This year, the Trojans were without a loss in section play, and found time to work in a few non-section matches against higher classification teams — Pine-Richland and Oakland Catholic (both their only losses).  They’re battle-tested and have dangerous scorers including Sharpless and Grace Billman who’s scored 16 goals this season.

North Catholic needed to dig deep in the semifinal round, when they met up in a battle with Shady Side Academy, in a game featuring last year’s WPIAL champions in 1A and 2A (Shady Side moved up in class this year.

The Trojans were up to the challange as Billman scored in the first half, but it would be a freshman Lily Karsman who scored the winning goal in overtime,

In a match-up featuring some potent scorers, much like last year’s final, this one may come down to which team can create a special moment against a familiar opponent who will be tough to score upon.

It would be no surprise if extra time is needed to decide the outcome of this match.


Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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