Three area teams – the Bishop Carroll girls volleyball squad and the boys’ soccer teams from North Star and Bedford – continue their respective quests for PIAA gold tonight.
The Huskies will face Cochranton in a Class A state semifinal at 7 p.m. at DuBois High School. The Cougars will play Sewickley Academy at
6 p.m. at Hempfield High School while in the late game at the Greensburg school scheduled for 8 p.m., the Bisons will battle West Allegheny.
Bishop Carroll coach Joe Skura says his District 6 champion Huskies are excited to be at this level.
“We have a group of seniors who have led us throughout the season, and the entire team plays with a lot of heart,” Skura said. “I told the girls that as far as being battle-tested, we are ready to go. We played a tough Laurel Highlands Conference schedule, went through interdistricts and now have played some games in states. We know that a state championship appearance is just a game away.”
Cochranton, the District 10 champion, was at one time a regular in the state playoffs, but Skura said he didn’t think the Cardinals had been back since the 1990’s.
“We know that they are a young team and that they have some height,” Skura said. “For our part, we need to be strong offensively and defensively and limit our unforced errors. We also have to be strong serving.”
In the first two rounds of the state playoffs, the Huskies defeated Our Lady of Sacred Heart (3-0) and Elk County Catholic (3-0) while the Cardinals bested Neshannock (3-0) and Clarion (3-1).
“When I saw this group of girls in eighth grade, I knew they had great potential,” Skura said about his senior group. “They have done a lot of hard work in the gym to get to this point and we are going to do our best to get to that title game.”
District 11 champ Marian Catholic and District 6 runner-up Bishop Guilfoyle are playing in the other semifinal and will face the Bishop Carroll/Cochranton winner in the championship at 11 a.m. Saturday at Central York High School.
This year’s North Star senior class played in the state soccer semifinal when they were freshmen.
“We had five of our seniors on the team who got significant playing time in 2010,” Cougars’ coach Chad Duryea said. “But this group has a high level of experience in both preparation and training.”
Senior Austin Swihura has scored 71 points for North Star and has 23 goals, including the pair in the PIAA quarterfinal win over Beaver County Christian. Senior Preston Miller has 24 goals and 61 points. Senior Kyle Louthan has been in goal for North Star and has 15 saves as well as 10 shutouts.
The District 5-A champion Cougars (20-2) defeated Lancaster Country Day (2-0) in the first-round of the state tournament before holding on for the 2-1 victory over the Eagles. Sewickley beat Bishop McCort (5-1) in the first round and Mercyhurst Prep (2-1) in the quarters.
“We know that Sewickley is a talented and well-coached team,” Duryea said. “They have had many successes and played in the state final last year. The key for us is to continue to play together as a team and come out and play North Star-style soccer and be the aggressor. I don’t think that anyone can question our heart. Our players believe in themselves and will come to get the job done.”
The other Class A soccer semifinal tonight features defending state champion Mountain View, the District 2 champ, against District 1 champion New Hope-Solebury in a rematch of last year’s semifinal. The Class A title match will be played at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium.
Coach Jeff Thomas and his Bisons (20-0-2) advanced to the state semifinals last season.
Sebastian Jene-Aleja scored on an assist from Will Kachman in Bedford’s 1-0 quarterfinal win over Harborcreek 1-0. Goalkeeper Brady Thomas had four saves for the District 5 champion Bisons in that game.
In the first round, the Bisons beat South Fayette 4-2. District 7 champ West Allegheny (20-0-3) has had two straight shutouts in the state playoffs, downing Warren (6-0) and Oley Valley (4-0).
In Class AA soccer, defending state champ Pequea Valley, the District 3 winner, will play District 1 champ Holy Ghost Prep. The Class AA championship is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.