PIAA Girls Soccer Class 1A Final
Riverview (22-4-0) vs Dock Mennonite (20-1-2)
Saturday, November 18 | 10 a.m. | Eagle View MS, Mechanicsburg
In Class 1A girls soccer only a few WPIAL schools have ruled the district playoffs and been at the forefront representing Western PA on the State playoffs stage for a good part of the past a decade-plus: Greensburg Central Catholic, Shady Side Academy and Freedom.
In 2023, Riverview Raiders have come out of nowhere to not only become become a Section Champion, top seed and runner-up in the district playoffs, but now they’ll be playing in the State Championship game for the first time in school history on Saturday morning (10 am kickoff vs Dock Mennonite).
This story is even more remarkable when you consider that during the Fall 2020 season, Riverview didn’t even field a team.
“We had to build the program from the ground up,” Sean Abraham, Riverview’s Head Coach said.
“It was like we had to build it from the ground up, even though the program had existed before, we were putting the pieces back together.”
The biggest piece of the puzzle has clearly been Abraham’s daughter, Lola, who played locally with the Riverhounds Development Academy and began her high school playing career as a sophomore, already on the radar of Division I top programs.
“My sophomore and junior years, we were just trying to get girls back into the program, get under their feet, playing again,” Lola added.
“And, this year, I couldn’t have asked for a better season.”
The Raiders went 5-11-0 in 2021, and saw improvement, to 9-7-0 in 2022.
To start the 2023 campaign, Riverview lost to traditional power Greensburg Central Catholic, 4-3, in extra time.
Despite the loss, that was a match where the Raiders started to believe they could have a special season.
“We used that game as a learning experience,” Lola Abraham stated.
“Going into that match, we knew it would be tough, but from that point on, we used that to build and grow as a team, and obviously we were able to do that.”
As a senior, and recently announcing her commitment to attend and play soccer at University of Pittsburgh, Abraham took the initiative to take on the goal scoring load for the Class 1A school.
🎉⚽️ A proud day for Riverview! Congratulations to Lola Abraham on her signing to the @pitt_wsoc DI women's soccer program. We can't wait to see Lola bring that Raider pride to the Panthers! Once a Raider, always a Raider! #RaiderProud #SigningDay #H2P pic.twitter.com/XMXejXBjiJ
— Riverview School District (@RiverviewSD_) November 9, 2023
By the time the Raiders reached the PIAA semifinal, Abraham netted 77 goals in 24 games
“Heading into the preseason, we like to set our team goals, and our first objective and we believed we could win the conference (Section), but also win the WPIAL and get into the State playoffs,” Sean Abraham said.
“We had some high goals we set for the girls, and they exceeded them.”
The Raiders would only lose one more time during the regular season, conquering traditional Section top teams, Greensburg Central Catholic and Springdale in their remaining showdowns, with the only set back coming in a non-section contest to Class 2A Freeport on the last day of the regular season.
In the WPIAL playoffs, they rolled to the Championship match, where they faced defending champs, Freedom, who became the first team to finally slow down Abraham, who scored 12 of the Raiders 13 goals in the playoffs coming into that match.
Heading into the state playoffs, the Raiders knew they would have to adjust when opposition would be keying and marking Abraham.
“Different teams have tried different things, but the key has been for us to play our game as a team, to settle the ball, move it around, play to feet and no matter what teams are doing to me, whether it’s man-mark or double team, it allows our girls to contribute, and play the game, get on the ball, and finish.”
Sure enough, when playing section rival Springdale for the third time, Abraham showed plenty of confidence in her teammates on the receiving end of one of her passes.
One of the five freshman that joined the team this season, Juliette Brun, a defender on a Raiders unit that has allowed just 25 goals in 23 games, scored the go-ahead goal in a tight contest against one of the best defensive teams in the WPIAL.
Brun was there to head in a well-served ball from Abraham to give the Raiders a lead early in the second half.
Against a Bishop Guilfoyle side that lost just once all season, Abraham went back to work, scoring all four goals in a 4-1 win that put Riverview into the State Title game.
On Saturday, Riverview will be facing Dock Mennonite. Much like Riverview, this is the first time in school history their girls program will play in a state championship game.
Unlike Riverview, Dock Mennonite, a private school in Bucks County, did make it to the PIAA’s in recent years, only to fall short to the team they beat on Tuesday, Morivan Academy.
Heading into the final, Dock Mennonite have won 16 straight games and outscored its first three PIAA opponents by a combined 14-0.
It will be a challenging match-up, but for Riverview girls, led by the Abraham connection, have already exceeded expectations this season, have been up for every obstacle put in their way this season.
Lola Abraham and her teammates head into the State Final as a tight-knit group.
“It’s an amazing group of girls, and no better team that I could ask to play for.”