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North Allegheny Crowned WPIAL 4A Champs over Peters Township

Photo courtesy Ed Thompson

For the third time in four seasons, North Allegheny are the best in Western PA. But Peters Township didn’t make it easy for them.

The Tigers needed 110 minutes of play and penalty kicks to get past a relentless and feisty Peters Township team that defended well and challenged for every header and 50-50 ball. But in the end, North Allegheny prevailed once again. Head Coach Chuck Kelley was humble in victory, but clearly joyful. “We don’t expect to win a championship. We’re grateful. We love having the opportunity to play for our community.”

It took a while for North Allegheny to grow into the game. The Tigers struggled to get things going in the early set, as it took most of the first half before N. Allegheny really put Peters under threat. Not till late in the first period did North Allegheny really begin to gain control of the match. Senior forward Lucia Wells had several dribble-drive attempts that forced Peters defenders Christina Sefer and Ella Neupaver into action.  Peters Township was able to fend of all efforts and get to the half with the score nil-nil.

Out of the halftime break, Peters regained their confidence and began to find space down the wings to attack. With midfielder Camryn Klein making deft one-touch passes into space, Indians Senior forwards Bella Spergel and Hannah Clark began to get chances in behind. One of those breaks finally worked for Peters. In the 58th minute, winger Addison Pirosko drove deep down the left side and lashed a shot onto the hands of N. Allegheny goalkeeper Natalie Rak. Rak parried low, but Bella Spergel was there for a rebound. The rebound was saved once more, but Spergel scooped it up once more and tapped it past the outstretched Rak to make it 1-0, Peters.

The response from Allegheny came immediately. Lucia Wells received a pass while drifting right. She turned, drove through the middle of defense, and blasted a shot from the top-center of the box hard and low past Peters keeper Molly Kubistek to level things at 1-1, just a minute after Peters had jumped into the lead.

At that point, both teams settled in a little more for the remainder of regular time, as the midfield battle took precedence. Molly Kubistek did step in for one or two more important saves, getting Peters to full time with the game tied at a goal apiece.

Both teams lofted hopeful balls from end to end during the two 15 minute overtime periods, although tired legs and able defending kept any of the chances from breaking through. The best chances went to North Allegheny Junior forward Abigail Stager with shots in the 88th and 91st minutes. But both times, first from wide right and then from straight on, Peters Township’s Freshman goalkeeper Molly Kubistek stoned her cold. To penalty kicks it would go.

In PKs, Peters scored their first PK, but would go on to miss the next two PKs, putting them behind 2-1. North Allegheny defender Riley Cerqua would step up and blast it low and right to get the 3-1 lead. Peters would make the next one to go to 3-2, but after an Allegheny miss, Peters needed a goal on the 10th shot to extend the game. They missed. North Allegheny won, and in dramatic fashion.

Allegheny Coach Chuck Kelley expressed that the team took a while to get into the game. “(To start), I don’t think we were playing the way we wanted to play. It took a little bit of time for us to get into the game. We were worried about the pressure from Peters. They made it difficult for us to get on the ball and have the time to play. Once our players were able to get into the flow of the game, they were able to play through the lines. It made it easier for us to open up the space and play how we wanted to.”

Allegheny forward Abigail Stager didn’t let 110 minutes of soccer dampen her excitement for winning the 4A Championship. “I feel great! Super excited!” In elaboration, Stager said, “It was a very hard fought game. Our defense played amazing. Both teams gave it their all.”

Riley Cerqua, who was credited with the game-winning PK, explained her plan in taking what would prove to be the critical goal of the match. “I always go to the same place – which is right. I was confident in myself. So I went, shot it, it went it. It was a relief. I just hit it. I just hit it.”

Cerqua added, “We worked so hard for this and it’s a well deserved game.”

It is doubtful, however, that this is the last we will hear from Peters Township over the next few years. Two of their standout players will be back next year, as defender/sweeper Ella Neupaver is an 11th grader, and midfield maestro Camryn Klein is in 10th grade. And standout goalkeeper Mollie Kubistek is only in 9th grade.

Kubistek took the loss like a veteran, saying “I’m really proud of my team. I thought we did really well. It’s unfortunate that we fell short in the penalty kicks, but that’s the way it is. I’m proud of my team nonetheless.”

Molly added that the future was only going to be stronger for the Peters Township Indians. “I feel really confident in our team the next couple years. I think we’re going to get better.”

“And hopefully win it next year.”

Ed Thompson Photo Gallery

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Minute by Minute Update

FINAL: North Allegheny wins in PKs 3-2 over Peters Township.

 

 

David Bowie’s ‘We can be Heroes’ booming as the girls step to the center circle for PKs. No pressure, girls.

2OT OVER – No goals. We are going to PKs.

109‘ – Lucia Wells steams in on goal, but defender Christina Sefer makes a game saving tackle.

107‘ – Jadyn Coy low cross into the box to a wide open Samantha Braden who tries the volley, and whiffs.

104‘ – Both teams dumping long balls in hopefully. Heavy legs all around.

97‘ – Dangerous corner for North Allegheny, but PT’s GK Mollie Kubistek makes the claim. She’s been lights out tonight, folks. She’s a freshman. Pay attention to this one, kids.

1st OT over ;  no result yet.

93‘ – Abigail Stager gets in on goal after the defender can’t handle her on a twisting turning dribble. She’s got a golden chance but Molly Kubistek is there again!

91‘ – This late, conditioning matters, and Peters Township looks the more winded of the two teams.

88‘ – Abigail Stager gets a break down the right side and gets past the defense, and puts a good chance on from a tough angle. Molly Kubistek is there to stop it.

85‘ – PT’s Bella Spergel sombreros the keeper, but an North Allegheny defender is there to clear it out well before it crosses the line.

84‘ – Lucia Wells with the first overtime shot, top of the box, high.

FT – Still locked at 1-1. We’re going to a golden goal AET at Highmark in the WPIAL 4A Girls Final.

76‘ –  And it’s knotted up at 1-1. Feels like anything can happen here at Highmark. North Allegheny 1, Peters Township 1.

73‘ – Hannah Clark hard shot! And a miss.

71‘ – PT’s Bliss Plummer with the shot! I really only wrote that so that I could legit write the name Bliss Plummer.

69‘ – Medical time stoppage. Madison Miller has to come off for a bloody nose.

67‘ – Camryn Klein has NA backpedaling and slots a nice pass in to Bella Spergel, but NA pokes it clear.

59‘ – Jadyn Coy with a sick low cross from the left side that finds the feet of Lucia Wells. Wells shot is solid, but PT’s Molly Kubistek saves it.

58‘ – N. Allegheny’s Lucia Wells applying pressure again.

57‘ – Peters Township backliner Ella Neupaver is doing yeomans work clearing balls, making tackles, and applying pressure. She keeps popping up to put out fires for PT.

48‘ – GOAL NORTH ALLEGHENY – On a nice entry pass from central midfield, Lucia Wells gets through the midfield quickly for a goal! She gets the assist from Anna Hundey. 1-1!

48‘ – GOAL PETERS TOWNSHIP – PT’s Bella Spergel with a goal on rebound! Addison Pirosko takes the shot wide left, NA Keeper Natalie Rak saves. It bounces to Bella Spergel, she takes a shot, it is saved low by Natalie Rak. Spergel gets her own rebound and tucks it into the net to put Peters Township up 1-0!

45‘ – Peters Township’s Camryn Klein has done some nice work in the midfield on headed balls and sending one-touch passes onward. Very calm, very efficient at advancing the ball in transition.

41‘ – Second Half is underway.

HT – The run of play is definitely going for North Allegheny right now. Let’s see what adjustments NA’s Head Coach Chuck Kelley and PT’s Pat Vereb are going to make.

38‘ – Lucia Wells with North Allegheny is bossing. She’s now twice taken on two mids, back to goal, turned it around and put them to the sword. Pretty impressive.

37‘ – Worm has turned a little. Peters Township is under constant pressure now three or four possessions in a row as North Allegheny is starting to dribble aggressively out of pressure, pass, dribble, and get chances in the box.

29‘ – Foul and a free kick for N. Allegheny. Madison Miller takes the shot, but it’s saved.

28‘ – Long dribble from midfield by NA’s Abigail Stager before a defender pokes the ball away. Both teams have awoken from a dull start and are making chances.

26‘ – PT’s Hannah Clark pops a hopeful shot from 30 yards out. Seems Peters Township’s game plan is to test the keeper. No dice yet.

21‘ – NA’s Sophia Palermo has a powerful dribble drive out of midfield and drops it off with nice weight for the oncoming winger, but the defender deals with it. Palermo is one to watch.

16‘ – PT’s Ella Neupaver with a 40 yard free kick from the left. It’s got some bend, but it lofts slightly over the goal. Great chance though.

15‘ – First shot on target for North Allegheny as Lucia Wells puts it from 25 yards out right at PT GK Molly Kubistek for an easy save.

10‘ – Slow start as North Allegheny seems content to let play develop slowly without pressure on the opposition. Peters struggles to get organized and complete passes.

And we’re underway!

Starting Lineups

North Allegheny

00 GK Natalie Rak

8 D Madison Miller

16 D Elliana Vitale

15 D Riley Cerqua

5 M Abigail Stager

4 M Sophia Palermo

11 M Ally Ruiz

21 M Jadyn Coy

35 M Libby Earley

3 F Anna Bundy

9 F Lucia Wells

Peters Township

88 GK Molly Kunistek

3 D Ella Neupaver

7 D Isabelle Guna

10 D Lexi Pirosko

17 D Bella Spergel

22 D Christina Sefer

5 M Camryn Klein

8 M Brooke Opferman

28 M Natalie Faingnaert

22 F Bliss Plummer

9 F Hannah Clark

 

 

Getting warmed up for the match here at Highmark!

 

 

WPIAL Girls 4A Soccer Championship

North Allegheny (19-1-0) vs Peters Township (14-1-3)

Thursday, November 3, 2022  |  8 p.m.  |  Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA

PSN Coverage Team:  Mark Goodman (reporting) & Ed Thompson (photography)

Live Stream: TribHSSN

 

Match Updates 

Look for match updates to be posted here.


Preview 

How tough is WPIAL Girls Class 4A soccer?

Both sides won both of their playoff games by a single goal, proving that the path to Highmark Stadium is not easy for any girls team in the highest classification.

North Allegheny and Peters Township have been at the top of girls Class 4A soccer standings for a good part of the past 20 plus years.

In the past five years, North Allegheny has been the most consistent school that has been at or near the top of the WPIAL’s ultra-competitive Class 4A Girls soccer group.  This will be their third finals appearance in the last four years.

The Tigers have a deep and talented squad, and they’re led by now two-time Moe Rosensteel Outstanding Player of the Year finalist, Lucia Wells.  If you recall, it was the Pitt commit, who as a sophomore, who scored the golden goal to help defeat section rival Butler in the 2020 Girls Class 4A final.  Wells is surrounded by an outstanding group.  Jaydn Coy is a dangerous finisher, who has proven that she can score some clutch goals, including the game winner vs Seneca Valley on Monday.  Anna Bundy is a dangerous player on the width and Natalie Rak has been lock solid in goal.

Peters Township has come awfully close a few times in recent years, but they have not lifted the DIstrict 7 trophy since 2012. Unlike last year, when they couldn’t get past Moon in three tries, this year, they are where they are because of dominance against Mt. Lebanon, their section rival, who they defeated three times this season.

While technically Mt. Lebanon were the section champs, Peters proved they were ultimately the best team out of Section 2, as they haven’t lost a match since August!

The Indians have outscored opponents 62-12 and have posted 10 shutouts.  It’s senior Brooke Opferman who has led the team in scoring with 13 goals in the regular season.

Against Lebo, it was Bella Spergel who scored in the first half and then Opferman who . Midfielders Opferman and fellow senior Lexi Pirosko joined sophomore Camryn Klein on the All-WPIAL team.

With little margin of error between Class 4A girls teams, this one should be another tight contest between two teams that are very much accustomed to and surviving close playoff battles.

How They Got To Highmark 

North Allegheny (Section 1 Champions) 

Head Coach – Aaron Smith

  • Quarterfinal Rd. – def Bethel Park 2-1 in quarterfinal
  • Semifinal Rd. – def Seneca Valley 3-2

Peters Township (Section 2 runner-up) 

Head Coach – Pat Vereb

  • Quarterfinal Rd. – def Butler, 1-0,
  • Semifinal Rd. – def Mt. Lebanon, 2-1

PSN Recent Coverage of Girls Class 4A

WPIAL Girls Soccer: Moe Rosentsteel Most Outstanding Player award finalists announced

WPIAL Girls Soccer Class 4A and 1A Semifinal Round (10/31/2022)

 

Mark Asher Goodman is a writer for Pittsburgh Soccer Now, covering the Riverhounds, the Pitt Men's and Women's teams, and youth soccer. He also co-hosts a podcast on the Colorado Rapids called 'Holding the High Line with Rabbi and Red.' He has written in the past for the Washington Post, Denver Post, The Athletic, and American Soccer Analysis. When he's not reading, writing, watching, or coaching soccer, he is an actual rabbi. No, really. You can find him on twitter at @soccer_rabbi

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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