Sewickley Academy and Freedom will put their unbeaten section records on the line Tuesday night at Sewickley Academy. The Panthers (7-1, 6-0) and Bulldogs (7-2, 6-0) have swept their section slates thus far and have opened a 1 1/2-game leads over third-place Quigley Catholic (7-2, 5-2). Sewickley Academy has been utterly dominant in section play. The Panthers have posted wins of 12-0 and 13-0 and a pair of 5-0 wins. The Panthers were pushed the hardest on the road at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, where they ultimately won, 2-0. They are the top-ranked team in Class 1A. The Bulldogs have also made easy work of most section opponents, blanking Quigley Catholic, Beaver County Christian, Mohawk and Neshannock.
A year ago, Sewickley Academy came within an inch of winning the WPIAL 2A team title and this season the Panthers could be the only squad with the depth to upset defending champion Beaver.
Sewickley Academy once again clinched the Section 4 title with a 7-0 record thanks in large part to a its three singles players, seniors Emily Ward, Caroline Becker and McKayla Cox. All three were with the team last season and participated in the WPIAL and PIAA team tournaments.
That's not all the experience the Panthers have, however, as sophomore Allina Mattson and senior Morgan Recker also saw time last year and could be a factor in the key doubles matches.
Sewickley Academy has not gone longer than two years without a team title since it won its first in 2008.
Sewickley Academy stepped up in weight class in its season opener and was far from being outmatched, but ultimately fell to Class 4A Peters Township, 2-0. Upon returning to 1A, the Panthers have been at their usual best. They posted four consecutive blowouts and shutouts. They blasted Mohawk, 12-0, and defeated Beaver County Christian before posting a pair of 5-0 wins over Quigley Catholic on the road and Neshannock at home. Derrick Littlefield has been in net for the shutouts. Tommy Lasorda scored five goals in the win over Mohawk and Mike Napoleone and Reese Blaylock each scored two for the top-ranked Panthers. In the win over Beaver County Christian, Ian Deihle got in on the scoring with a two-goal game. Sewickley Academy will carry a 4-1 overall record and 4-0 market in Section 1-A into their contest Saturday at Mohawk.
Name: Jason Li
School: Sewickley Academy
Sport: Boys Golf
Background: Jason is averaging 35 strokes for nine holes this season. The four-year member of the Panthers' boys golf team was the 2014 PIAA Class AA champion and 2015 WPIAL Class AA champion. Jason plans to play golf in college. At the moment, he is being recruited by Ivy League and Patriot League schools as he is also an outstanding student. Jason also plays basketball. He has been a member of the Math and Programming clubs as well as the Environmental and Conservation clubs.
In recent years, Sewickley Academy has fought through some difficult scenarios as Coach Cheryl Lassen has fielded teams with less than the requisite number on the field.
Lassen and her team would never dream of forfeiting a game because an opponent has more players on the field. Rather, her team has been admired because of its never give up philosophy.
On Tuesday, Lassen's Panthers travel to Oakland for its WPIAL Class 1A opener with 2015 playoff participant Winchester Thurston.
In recent years, the Bears have reached the WPIAL tournament, and they advanced to the 2013 WPIAL championship game where they lost to Shady Side Academy, 2-1, in an overtime thriller.