Leopards, Cougars have 5 named All-WPIAL
The Belle Vernon Area and Yough girls’ soccer teams may have come up short of a WPIAL title, but both squads this past weekend garnered league-wide acclaim.
Five players from both programs were named to the all-WPIAL team Saturday. Only Class A champion Greensburg Central Catholic (six) landed more players on the league’s honor roll.
For BVA, midfielders Caitlin Caldwell and Marisa Zetty; forwards Samantha Mendicino and McKenna Keffel and goalkeeper Kaity Watson were honored.
Watson tied a school record with 14 shutouts while McKenna led the Leopards with 14 goals. Caldwell finished the season with 12 goals and 16 assists, while Mendicino tallied 12 goals.
“When you have a team that has success, the individuals get acknowledged and the girls are certainly deserving,” BVA coach Paul Sasko said. “By far it’s the most players we’ve ever had on both the WPIAL and all-section teams.”
For Yough, the five honorees were forwards Hannah Ponitz and Shawna Zaken; midfielder Natalie Luppold; defender Danica Pils and goalkeeper Leigh Appolonia.
Zaken led the Cougars with 31 goals while Ponitz tallied 24 times. Appolonia entered the postseason without giving up a single goal in 18 games.
Both Yough and BVA finished undefeated in their respective sections. The Leopards lost in the quarterfinals to eventual WPIAL Class AA champion Montour. Yough advanced to the league semifinals for the first time in school history before bowing to runner-up Mars.
Charleroi Area senior forward Halee Fedrick and junior midfielder Kyra Watkins also made the all-WPIAL team. The pair nearly combined for 50 goals.
Other area honorees were Ringgold senior sweeper Alanina Nickolls and Elizabeth Forward senior defender Olivia Barkley.
While BVA will lose Caldwell and Mendicino to graduation, juniors Keffel, Zetty and Watson are expected to return next year for their senior campaign.
“Our three seniors are definitely going to be tough to replace, but everybody is in the same boat and you lose players every year,” Sasko said. “We have a really deep junior class and our hope is to come back even stronger next year.”
The following players were also named to their respective all-section teams, as voted on by opposing coaches:
Section 1-AA – Yough: Ponitz, Zaken, Luppold, Pils, Appolonia, Taylor Powell (Sr., D), Alexandria O’Brien (Sr., D), Jessica Moore (Jr., MF).
Section 4-AA – Belle Vernon Area: Caldwell, Zetty, Mendicino, Keffel, Watson, Ally Demko (Sr., MF), Courtney Hrycko (Jr., D); Ringgold: Nickolls, Caylee Miller (Sr., D/MF), Brooke Vollmer (Jr., F), Bailee Bove (Sr., F), Carly Kristobek (Jr., GK); Elizabeth Forward: Barkley, Rachel Bakewell (Sr., F), Liz Biddle (Sr., F/MF).
Section 2-A – Charleroi Area: Fedrick, Watkins, Morgan Riley (Jr., D), Adrianna Gottheld (So., F), Sydney Toth (Jr., GK); Bentworth: Matty Fowler (Sr., MF), Miranda VanKirk (Jr., D/MF), Karissa Gondak (Sr., D/MF), Bea Kossel (So., MF/F), Jeanna Brewer (Sr., GK).
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2635.