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South Fayette squeak by Mars to WPIAL 3A Final

There weren’t any goals, and it took 110 minutes of soccer plus seven rounds of penalty kicks, but after a long battle, South Fayette’s Lady Lions emerged victorious over Mars in the WPIAL 3A Girls semi-final in Dormont Tuesday night.

South Fayette came out with better possession and more speed in the first 20 minutes of both the first and second halves, but their finishing let them down. The Lions ended regulation with no fewer than 8 shots, and a few more in the two overtime periods. But all were turned away by a phenomenal goalkeeping effort by Mars goalkeeper Kate McEnroe. McEnroe, a senior, made five exceptional saves – three diving to her side, and an additional two slides to beat the attacker to the ball – plus several routine claims, as her heroics were certainly all that kept Mars from going down in regulation. South Fayette right winger Olivia Renk used exceptional pace to put the backline under pressure time after time all evening, while the deft passing touch and ability to turn and dance in traffic by midfielder Mia Patel gave SF the advantage on the night in possession.

The strong backline of Mars would bend at time, but it did not break all night. Ella Pierce and Sadie Stuart in particular were hard to play through and cleared the ball time and time again through the evening. The Planets hard working senior, Addison Girdwood, was the most effective player for her team on the night as she patrolled the midfield in defense and helped progress the ball forward when possible on offense.

With no goals in regulation or overtime, the game went to PKs. Both keepers – Mars’ Kate McEnroe and South Fayette’s Caitlyn Thompson – came up big in critical spots. Thompson made a spectacular diving save on the second Mars PK, and swatted a ball off the line on the fourth penalty that required a second-effort dive to keep it barely out, averted certain disaster in a dramatic moment. Meanwhile McEnroe guessed right on a critical low and hard goal that she caught with relative ease compared to the other efforts she had to make.

In the end, after six rounds of PKs and the score 2 to 2, it was sophomore midfielder Mia Deramo who netted the game winner. Deramo plays her club ball with the Riverhounds Development Academy, so she will be well familiar with Highmark Stadium when the Lions play there on Saturday for the WPIAL 3A title.

South Fayette will face the winner of the other WPIAL 3A Semifinal Tuesday night, Moon High School, who beat Montour on PKs to get a shot at the title.

For Twitter/X play-by-play and a photo gallery, read on.



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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

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