Nine local girls soccer teams learned their postseason fate with the release of the WPIAL playoff brackets Wednesday.
Several local squads will look to continue their seasons and make more school history over the next couple of weeks. First-round action in all four classifications starts Saturday.
Peters Township was given the No. 3 seed and a first-round bye in Class AAAA after going 14-3 overall and shared the Section 2-AAAA title with Upper St. Clair.
“I say this a lot, but I firmly believe that our section is the best girls soccer section in the state, no matter the classification,” Peters Township coach Pat Vereb said. “Top to bottom, there was no off night in our section and the competition between the top six teams in the section was so tight. I believe playing in this section kept us sharp and will only help us in the playoffs.”
Peters Township’s quarterfinal matchup will be Wednesday at a time and site to be determined. The Indians will play either No. 6 seed Penn Trafford (12-4) or No. 11 Butler (9-5-2).
The Indians have a diverse offensive style, which is led by Regan LaVigna, Rachel Raber, Natalie Daube, Jillian Marvin, Hannah Stuck, CeCe Scott and Casey Breier.
Defensively, Peters Township has eight shutouts with goalkeeper Emma Sawich. The most goals allowed by the Indians has been three, and that was only time, a 3-1 loss to Mt. Lebanon.
In Class AAA, Belle Vernon is the No. 3 seed and hosts No. 14 seed South Fayette (9-5-1) in the first round at James Weir Stadium Saturday.
The Leopards went 13-3 overall and steamrolled to an undefeated record (12-0) in Section 2. They are looking for their first postseason win since 2015.
Trinity (13-3), which is making its first playoff appearance in decades, is the No. 8 seed in Class AAA. The Hillers will host Montour (11-6) Saturday at 3 p.m.
Waynesburg is the lone local team to grab a berth in Class AA and will be trying to defend its WPIAL championship.
But much has changed for the Raiders (13-5) since that playoff run of a season ago.
All-time leading scorer Madison Clayton and two other senior defenders graduated. Junior Jillian Kijowski sat out this season after tearing her ACL in the offseason. A couple of weeks ago, Waynesburg lost its starting goalkeeper, McKenzie Booth, to injury.
“Going into the season, we had a small roster,” Waynesburg coach Joe Kijowski said. “We have some injuries and that will always hurt any team. We have been inconsistent these last couple of weeks, but I really believe if we play our best we can compete with anyone.”
Despite those losses, the Raiders still finished second in Section 3 behind South Park and has outscored their opponents 78-20.
Rhea Kijowski again has been a strong component to the Waynesburg attack with 33 goals, but she has also been aided by Kylie Sinn, Bailey Fudala, Kaley Pell, Brenne Benke and Elise Benke. Emily McCarty has moved from defender to goalkeeper.
Waynesburg is the No. 4 seed and has a first-round bye. The Raiders will play either No. 5 seed Avonworth (11-5-2) or No. 12 seed Apollo Ridge (6-6-1) in the quarterfinals Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
“Double-A is wide open this year,” Kijowski said. “I feel like we played in a tough section. Playing three section games in one week was tough. We played South Park real close twice and I think they can be a top team in the playoffs. But there’s not that one team in the bracket that will dominate. Whoever can get hot and ride the momentum will win.”
In Class A, Bentworth is the No. 3 seed and will bring a 14-2 record into the postseason. The Bearcats won the school’s third section title.
“I really like our depth this season,” Bentworth coach Tyler Hamstra said. “That has been a luxury for us. The mindset of this team is to always be hungry and we have kids fighting to just get on the field. I really love that intracompetitive nature about our team. We are also a veteran group with a lot of wins under our belts.”
Bentworth, which lost to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the first round last year, will be looking to make the same run they did in 2016, when they beat North Catholic in the first round and South Side Beaver in the quarterfinals before losing to Shady Side Academy in the semifinals.
Leading the charge for Bentworth has been Jocelyn Timlin (35 goals), Paige Marshalek (30 goals), Rori Schreiber and Caroline Rice. Timlin enters the playoffs with a school-record 95 goals.
Candalaria Kossel has been a strong force at goalkeeper, posting nine shutouts this fall. The senior is also tops in school history in both wins and shutouts.
The Bearcats will play No. 14 seed Vincentian (6-5-2) in the first round Saturday at Trinity 1 p.m.
Other local teams in the Class A bracket are No. 8 seed Chartiers-Houston (10-8), No. 10 seed Beth-Center (8-6) and No. 11 seed Charleroi (6-6). Each team will play Saturday. Chartiers-Houston plays Springdale (9-6) at North Allegheny, Beth-Center faces Our Lady of Scared Heart (11-6) at Mt. Lebanon and Charleroi is matched against Bishop Canevin (10-3-1) at West Allegheny.
Shady Side Academy and Greensburg Central Catholic have combined to win each fo the last eight Class A titles.
“Both Shady Side and Greensburg are again the teams to beat,” Hamstra said. “Freedom dropped from Double-A and they are undefeated. I think we can compete with those teams with our experience and overall talent. Some might consider us a dark horse, but I don’t think teams will let us fly under the radar with the team and the record we have.”