North Allegheny High field hockey coach Jen Diaz was mostly pleased with the effort turned in by her team this season. But there always is a sense of emptiness when the season ends earlier than expected.
"We did some amazing things, but we didn't win the one game we were gunning for," she said after her Tigers lost the WPIAL Class AAA championship game to Penn-Trafford, 3-0, at Fox Chapel Area High School Stadium on Tuesday night.
The loss ended North Allegheny's season at 14-5, and it was the first time this season the Tigers had been shut out. North Allegheny won the 2010 Class AAA title with a 2-1 overtime victory over Fox Chapel.
Penn-Trafford's Sydney Pribanic scored the opening goal on a penalty corner play less than six minutes into the game. Less than nine minutes later, the Warriors doubled their lead when Marisa Siergiej scored on another penalty corner with an assist from her sister Isabel Siergeij. Penn-Trafford closed out the scoring in the second half when Taylor Bell scored with 16 minutes left.
Diaz called a time out after Pribanic's goal, but there was no concern at that point.
"They scored so early in the game, so I wasn't too worried," she said. "We've come from behind before. But that second goal on another penalty corner put us back on our heels. We had plenty of chances, but we weren't able to put the ball in the back of the net."
Diaz had plenty of praise for the WPIAL champions.
"This is the best game Penn-Trafford has played all year," she said. "They were clicking on all cylinders. They were receiving hard passes that they'd been missing in the past, and they also had a little magic in their play which is what you need to win a championship."
The game ended the historic career of senior captain Carley Thieret, a midfielder who finished with a school-record 48 goals.
The Kent State recruit's greatest asset was her versatility.
"I asked her to play a different position in each of her four years," Diaz said. "She played left wing forward as a freshman, and I asked her to play left midfielder as a sophomore because Lauren Shideler missed the whole season with a concussion. We moved her to center midfielder as a junior and to forward as a senior."
Thieret's 48 goals were scored over a three-year period as she didn't score a single goal in her sophomore season.
"It shows how focused she is and how selfless she played," the coach said. "She played where the team needed her, and she gave it her all."
Diaz, who also played at Kent State of the Mid-American Conference, said her college choice might have influenced Thieret a little.
"Their coaching staff was familiar with me, but Carley did work out with them last winter and also went up there for a summer camp this summer," the coach said.
The Tigers lose six starters from a team that won one WPIAL title, was a runner-up on two occasions and reached the semifinals on another occasion inthe last four years. Departing players include Thieret, Shideler, center midfielder Paige Vanerstrom, defender Emily Hesidence, defender Alexa Sofranko and goalkeeper Becca Belko, who allowed just 16 goals and had a save percentage of 84.2 percent.
"Our biggest task will be rebuilding our backfield, so we're looking at our (junior varsity) teams to help fill in some holes," Diaz said. "It's going to be a big adjustment for some of them because the speed of play on the varsity level is so much better and it's more physical. There's a lot more body contact on the varsity level."
Fortunately for North Allegheny, however, the cupboard isn't bare. Five starters return including junior forward Emily Humiston, who scored 17 goals this season and enters her senior year with 43 goals.