Winchester Thurston stood tall and ended a WPIAL title drought by East teams last season.
The Bears hope to keep the wins flowing and make another big splash this fall.
Prior to last season, no East team had won a WPIAL championship since 2009, but Winchester Thurston changed that when the Bears defeated defending Class A champion Sewickley Academy in a shootout to claim their first title.
A year later, the Bears will defend that championship, as well as their Section 1 title. The Bears went 21-1-1 overall and 10-0 in section play. Their only loss came in a double-overtime thriller to Sewickley Academy in the PIAA semifinals. The Bears return seven starters, including senior forward Tyler Coleman and senior midfielder Max Rogow. Coleman scored 12 goals last season. Topping Sewickley Academy will be difficult, though, as the Panthers return 10 starters.
Winchester Thurston stood tall and ended a WPIAL title drought by East teams last season.
Here are some boys soccer players from the East to keep an eye on this season.
Tyler Aber, Riverview, Junior, Defender
Robbie Bailey, Mount Pleasant, Senior, Goalkeeper
Paul Bence, Central Catholic, Senior, Defender
Jake Beretta, Penn-Trafford, Senior, Defender
Nick Broujos, Central Catholic, Senior, Forward
Tyler Coleman, Winchester Thurston, Senior, Forward
Cameron Eckberg, Norwin, Junior, Forward
Reginald Holt, Penn Hills, Junior, Midfielder/Forward
Matt Johnson, Mount Pleasant, Senior, Defender
Oscar Marroquin, Central Catholic, Senior, Goalkeeper
Corey Mazary, Burrell, Senior, Forward
Hunter Petrosky, Latrobe, Junior, Forward
Ever Rodriguez, Allderdice, Senior, Forward
Max Rogow, Winchester Thurston, Senior, Midfielder
James Young, Franklin Regional, Senior, Midfielder
Clarion, Pa. - Clarion jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the goal by Aaliyah Odom at 20:11, however it was not enough as the Golden Eagle women's soccer team fell to the Penn State Women's Soccer Club 2-1 on Saturday afternoon in an exhibition matchup.
Held at Clarion's Memorial Stadium the Golden Eagles were lead by Odom, a Plum graduate, who scored the team's lone goal.
(photo courtesy of Clarion University)
Greensburg Central Catholic will try to repeat as WPIAL Class A champions this year. Junior forward Bailey Cartwright has established herself as one of the top goal scorers in the state. She led the WPIAL with 59 goals last season.
In Class AA, Yough has quickly established itself as a soccer power. The Cougars won 17 games last season and did not concede a goal in the regular season. Senior goalie Leigh Appolonia is back this year along with senior forward Shawna Zaken.
Section 1-AAA could be wide open. A year after Norwin edged Penn-Trafford by half a game to win the section title, there is a lot of turnover. The Warriors lose Italia Biondi, while Norwin welcomes back all-state senior forward Micayla Livingston and all-WPIAL senior defender Jess Boytim. Many are expecting an improved Kiski Area side. The Cavaliers return senior forward Taylor Morlacci. Plum will be a tough out with senior Ashley Amato returning a year after scoring 19 goals.
Here are some girls soccer players from the East to keep an eye on this season.
Ashley Amato, Plum, Senior, Midfielder
Athena Biondi, Penn-Trafford, Junior, Midfielder
Jess Boytim, Norwin, Senior, Defender
Keirsten Bradnam, Hempfield, Senior, Midfielder
Essence Canady, Oakland Catholic, Senior, Midfielder
Bailey Cartwright, Greensburg C.C., Junior, Forward
Lexie Kolano, Norwin, Junior, Forward
Micayla Livingston, Norwin, Senior, Forward
Maggie Mastrogiacomo, Penn-Trafford, Senior, Defender
Jessica Moore, Yough, Senior, Midfielder
Taylor Morlacci, Kiski Area, Senior, Forward
Nikki Polens, Riverview, Senior, Midfielder
Amanda Thomas, Franklin Regional, Senior, Goalkeeper
Sarah Ward, Greensburg C.C., Senior, Defender
Shawna Zaken, Yough, Senior, Forward
Penn-Trafford's field hockey team left the 2014 season behind with a lot of questions, but few satisfying answers. Despite finishing with the same record – 7-3 – as Pine-Richland in Section 1, the Warriors were left on the outside of the playoffs as Pine-Richland won a tiebreaker.
The Warriors lost some quality players, but they have plenty returning. Seven seniors return with experience all over the field. Jessica Steffey, Gabe Andreo and Megan Little are expected to be solid forwards. Two midfielders – Ann Lipinski and Emily Polakovsky – also could be scoring threats. Marissa Bacco is expected to pace the defense, which will be back-stopped by Christina Bauer.
The Warriors scrimmaged Peters Township this past Thursday and will scrimmage Fox Chapel on Monday. They open the season at 4 p.m. on Sept. 8 against visiting Woodland Hills in a non-section game. A key early-season game takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 14 when the Warriors host perennial postseason favorite North Allegheny. The rematch takes place on Oct. 6 at the Tigers' Newman Stadium.
Here are some field hockey players from the East to keep an eye on this season.
Jessica Steffey, Penn-Trafford, Sr.
Gabe Andreo, Penn-Trafford, Sr.
Megan Little, Penn-Trafford, Sr.
Ann Lipinski, Penn-Trafford, Sr.
Emily Polakovsky, Penn-Trafford, Sr.
Marissa Bacco, Penn-Trafford, Sr.
Christina Bauer, Penn-Trafford, Sr.
Fay Belloch, Winchester Thurston, Sr.
Sophia Ogot, Ellis, Sr.
Jules Goehring, Norwin, Sr.
Sarah Bulloch, Norwin, Sr.
Maura Loughran, Hempfield, Sr.
Winchester Thurston returns as a powerhouse this season. The Bears return the majority of their top talent including Will Loevner and Ben Littman. The only loss was No. 3 runner Landin Delaney, but there is plenty of talent to bridge the gap.
Winchester Thurston is looking for a clean sweep this year as it defends its PIAA Class A title. However, Sewickley's Griffin Mackey is back as strong as ever and will give Loevner a run for his money. If Loevner is up for the challenge, it could be the edge the Bears need for to claim another WPIAL title.
Greensburg Central Catholic will have gaps to fill if it wants to keep its status as a top-three team in WPIAL Class AA. The Golden Lions lose the talents of Vince Mirigliano, Philip Forsythe and Matt Osche.
In Class AAA, Central Catholic took seventh place at the WPIAL meet. The Vikings will lean on the talent of senior Daniel Young this year. Young finished 20th at the WPIAL meet.
Norwin loses some key seniors in Cameron Grudowski and Rachel Facsizka. However, there is still a lot of talent, led by newcomers Courtney and Caitlin Kosanovic, and Morgan Osterberg, as well as basketball convert Lucy Race. All are really pushing the lead pack.
Oakland Catholic will return a solid top five to try and improve upon a sixth-place WPIAL finish. However, the Eagles will have to do so without top-talent Mackenzie Zeh.
Hempfield graduated Morgan Ansell, its only runner to compete at the state meet.
Kiski Area will try to improve upon a fifth-place finish at the WPIAL meet. The Cavaliers will rely heavily on senior Megan Aller, who placed 10th last year. Kiski will lose the talents of Lauren Smeltzer and Stephanie Lednak.
Here are some boys cross country runners from the East to keep an eye on this season.
Jake Susalla, Plum, Sr.
Eric Kennedy, Kiski Area, So.
Liam Connelly, Gateway, Sr.
Daniel Young, Central Catholic, Sr.
Joey Gatti, Central Catholic, Jr.
Ben Littman, Winchester Thurston, Jr.
Jon Frye, Greensburg Central Catholic, Sr.
Mark Provenzo, Franklin Regional, Jr.
Tyler Laughery, Norwin, Sr.
Frankie King, Greensburg Salem, Jr.
Will Loevner, Winchester Thurston, Sr.
Tristan Forsythe, Winchester Thurston, So.
Brian Harr, Derry, Jr.
Here are some girls cross country runners from the East to keep an eye on this season.
Megan Aller, Kiski Area, Sr.
Lauren Finikotis, Oakland Catholic, Jr.
Morgan Ansell, Hempfield, Jr.
Sterling Simek, Franklin Regional, So.
Katja Kochvar, Franklin Regional, Sr.
Kelley Giles, Norwin, Jr.
Rachel Valotta, Plum, Sr.
Lindsay Johnston, Penn-Trafford, Jr.
Riley Kwiatkowski, Greensburg Salem, Jr.
Molly Kennedy, Riverview, Sr.
Below is a review of the East posts that appeared Sunday, August 23 through Saturday, August 29.
The Post-Gazette has previews of all our area's high school football teams. Here's an index to previews for all schools in the East Xtra zone.
*Central Catholic 2015 Football Preview
*Hempfield 2015 Football Preview
*Kiski Area 2015 Football Preview
*Latrobe 2015 Football Preview
*Norwin 2015 Football Preview
*Penn Hills 2015 Football Preview
*Plum 2015 Football Preview
*Penn-Trafford 2015 Football Preview
*Woodland Hills 2015 Football Preview
Terry Totten has been around high school football long enough to know not to flaunt it when you have a good team.
Deep down though, the Central Catholic coach knows he might have something special cooking in Oakland this season.
"I think we have a talented football team, but we certainly have our holes just like any high school football team," Totten said. "If we continue to plug those holes, we'll be competitive when it counts."
There are very few teams in the WPIAL that can lay claim to having the talent pool Central Catholic will bring to the field this season. The Vikings have at least eight potential Division I-A recruits, three of whom, Bricen Garner (6-1, 159, Sr., DB), Rashad Wheeler (6-3, 270, Sr., DT) and Ronnie Jones (6-1, 185, Sr., RB) have already committed to play collegiately while highly prized Damar Hamlin (6-1, 179, Sr., DB) and Ron George (6-2, 205, Sr., LB) are still weighing their options amid a plethora of offers.
Even with seven returning starters on offense and five on defense, Hempfield is still one of the youngest teams in the Foothills Conference.
"We are all young. Those were a lot of sophomores last year who are back," coach Rich Bowen said. "We are mostly sophomores and juniors. It will be a work in progress."
The seniors who are back are impact playmakers.
Senior Daniel Walters (6-0, 183) threw for 1,371 yards and nine touchdowns last year in only eight games while leading the team in rushing with 492 yards. Two of his top three receivers graduated, but senior Dylan Sikora (6-0, 156) returns after catching 25 passes for 375 yards.
The Cavaliers struggled through a winless 2014 campaign, but bring back plenty of offensive weapons including their starting quarterback, leading wide receiver and leading rushers. Senior quarterback Chad Kuhn (6-2, 200) is back under center after completing 80 of 155 passes last season for 968 yards and six touchdowns. He can also get out of the pocket and run, as evidenced by his 156 rushing yards last season.
Kuhn's top target returns in senior wide receiver DeShawon Bracy (6-2, 165). Bracy caught 21 passes for 326 yards last year.
Coach David Heavner also welcomes back his top running back from last season, senior Lincoln Clayton (6-0, 180). Clayton carried the ball 64 times for 310 yards last season.
The Cavaliers hope to break a nine-game regular-season losing streak this season, but are also only one season removed from a five-win campaign and playoff appearance.
With holes to fill on both sides of the line and only 10 seniors on a sophomore and junior-dominated roster, Latrobe will rely heavily on its returning weapons at the skill positions. Senior Craig Stevens (6-1, 215) took a majority of the snaps at quarterback last season but will move to running back to make way for junior quarterback Austin Butler (6-4, 200), who took limited snaps last season.
"It will be more Austin starting, but there will be some packages with Craig in there at quarterback. It is about getting our best athletes on the field," coach Jason Marucco said. "Skill positions are our strength. We have to fill holes up front, but that is what camp is for."
Senior receivers Tyler Gustafson (5-11, 165) and Bailey Larkin (6-2, 170) give Butler two returning starters to throw to. The offensive line will rebuild around senior left tackle Ian Hood (6-1, 280). Stevens at outside linebacker, Butler and Gustafson at defensive back, Hood at defensive tackle and Sam Karol (5-11, 180, Sr.) at inside linebacker are the five returning starters on defense.
Senior quarterback Nick Amendola (6-1, 215) is back in the fold this season after a strong junior campaign, and now he will have to develop some new receiving weapons. A year after passing for 862 yards and seven touchdowns, Amendola and the Knights will have to replace their top three receivers from 2014, Logan Deri, Zach Hall and Zeke Kljucaric.
The rushing attack should be able to take some pressure off the passing game early in the season. Leading rusher Peyton Deri (6-2, 205, Sr.) returns. He rushed for 620 yards last season, and Amendola was second on the team with 311. Deri is also the second-leading receiver back this season behind senior tight end Steve Petrick (6-5, 228).
Coach Dave Brozeski returns for his second season. In his inaugural campaign, he helped turn around Norwin from a 2-7 team in 2013 to a playoff-bound, 5-5 team last season.
In its first season in the Southeastern Conference, Penn Hills claimed a somewhat surprising share of the conference title last year. With one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the WPIAL in Billy Kisner (6-0, 180, Sr.) returning, a similar run would not be surprising.
Kisner threw for 448 yards along with being a 1,000-yard rusher to help lead the Indians to a late-season upset of Woodland Hills that led to a shared conference title between the two teams. A Toledo recruit, Kisner passed for five touchdowns and rushed for 12 as a junior.
The Indians will have to replace their top receiver, Frederick Squires, and leading scorer and second-leading rusher Te'Shan Campbell, both of whom graduated. Senior slot back Henton Mathis (5-11, 170) also returns after rushing for 578 yards last season.
Coming off an 11-win season, an outright Foothills Conference title and back-to-back WPIAL semifinal appearances, expectations are ramped up even higher at Penn-Trafford this season.
The Warriors boast one of the top quarterback-receiver combinations in Class AAAA.
Senior quarterback Brett Laffoon (6-1, 200) threw for 2,005 yards last season. More than half of those yards went to Tim Vecchio (5-10, 175, Sr., WR). Laffoon was 106 for 160 with 26 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Vecchio, a Robert Morris recruit, caught 43 passes for 1,022 yards. They carried an offense last season that averaged 39.8 points per game, second best in Class AAAA behind only WPIAL champion Pine-Richland (44.6).
Coach John Ruane has built Penn-Trafford into a perennial contender, if not the team to beat in the conference. Vecchio scored 16 touchdowns last season behind only Devin Austin, the biggest weapon Penn-Trafford has to replace. Austin was second on the team in receiving and first in rushing, totaling 1,417 yards.
- Plum 2015 Football Preview
- Woodland Hills 2015 Football Preview
- Franklin Regional 2015 Football Preview
- Gateway 2015 Football Preview
- Greensburg Salem 2015 Football Preview
- Yough 2015 Football Preview
- Burrell 2015 Football Preview
- Derry 2015 Football Preview
- East Allegheny 2015 Football Preview
- Mount Pleasant 2015 Football Preview
- Valley 2015 Football Preview
- Greensburg Central Catholic 2015 Football Preview
- Jeannette 2015 Football Preview
- Leechburg 2015 Football Preview
- Riverview 2015 Football Preview
- Wilkinsburg 2015 Football Preview
- Football: Penn Hills senior's work ethic second to none
- Football: Penn-Trafford receiver among WPIAL's best
- Football: For Jeannette and Greensburg C.C., it was a moving experience
- Football: Central Catholic defense STEMs from special group