Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

South Allegheny in Wild Scramble for Playoff Spot High School Girls Soccer

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

South Allegheny in Wild Scramble for Playoff Spot High School Girls Soccer

Article excerpt

Some incoming freshman classes dwindle -- especially in regard to athletics -- during their four years of high school.

A large crop of freshmen players is often pared somewhat by the time they are seniors.

That is not the case with the South Allegheny girls soccer team.

A freshmen class of six girls four years ago grew to seven sophomores in 2012 and nine juniors in 2013. There are nine seniors on the current roster and as the number in the class has grown, so has the talent, experience and expectations.

Never have either been as high as this season. The Gladiators entered the season ranked No. 3 in WPIAL Class A by the Post- Gazette.

"This should be the strongest team we have had since I have been there," fifth-year coach Jesse MacPherson said. "We were pretty good last year and we have 10 starters back this year."

Not even a season-opening 1-0 loss at Charleroi Area could temper expectations. South Allegheny is embroiled in a wild five-team scramble for Section 2-A honors.

Going into Wednesday's action, the Gladiators (5-3, 5-3) were battling Charleroi (9-2, 8-1), Chartiers-Houston (7-4, 7-2), Bentworth (6-5. 6-3) and Serra Catholic (5-5, 5-4) for the section title as well as one of the section's three WPIAL playoff berths.

The early-season loss by South Allegheny was somewhat of a wakeup call for the team.

"We escaped last year with a win at Charleroi that we probably didn't deserve," MacPherson said. "It has to be a wakeup call. We talked about in practice. Charleroi got the better of us."

It was a weird feeling the next day in practice as South Allegheny had not lost a section game in two years.

The section title is far from lost, however. Charleroi lost a section match to Bentworth the following day and South Allegheny won three section matches in a row. The Gladiators came up with a much needed victory on Monday against Beth-Center to stop a two-game losing streak.

South Allegheny's group of seniors has already been a part of a program first. Two years ago South Allegheny won the first playoff game in program history. Last season, it finished 13-4-1 overall with an 11-0-1 record in section play to claim the Section 2-A title. …

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