JACKSON TWP — Both soccer teams at Seneca Valley turned in superb regular seasons this fall. In fact, the WPIAL on Wednesday said there was no team better in Class 4A.
SV's girls (13-2) and boys (14-2-1) won a section title and were rewarded with a No. 1-ranking in the upcoming district playoffs.
“We were unranked at the start of the season and we play in a very difficult section,” said SV girls coach Mark Perry. “To be top-ranked, it's a great accomplishment for the regular season, but we know that we'll be judged on what we do in the playoffs.”
The Raiders will next be in action at 8 p.m. Wednesday at home against Mt. Lebanon, which earned a 2-1 victory over Connellsville in Saturday's opening round.
SV's offense features junior forward Breana Valentovish, who has scored 17 goals this season to lead the team.
“She's scored that many goals, despite missing three games with an injury,” said Perry. “She's back, though, and we count on her a lot.”
Supporting Valentovish are seniors Julia Redilla and Lauren Sileo, a midfielder and forward who have scored seven and six goals, respectively.
The defense is led by seniors Anna Takac and Madeline Neuschwander. Junior goalkeeper Morgan Sinan has turned in a strong season behind them.
The Raiders' regular-season finale was a section contest at Butler Oct. 15. SV led that game 3-0, but ended up tasting a 4-3 defeat.
Perry said he is not concerned about that result leading into the playoffs.
“We've moved past it,” he said. “The girls know that we just had a letdown against a very good team. Butler may be a fourth-place team, but they are better than that. They will make some noise in the playoffs.”
SV's girls last won a section title when they shared the crown in 2015 with Pine-Richland and North Allegheny.
Prior to the season, Raider boys coach George Williams believed his team could hang its hat on balanced scoring and stout defense in front of star goalkeeper, Will Gallagher.
Now, seven weeks later, Williams and the Raiders are reaping the rewards of all three predictions coming true.
“The boys have put in a lot of hard work,” he said. “Getting the No. 1 seed is not something we take for granted. We've been able to find ways to get ahead, stay ahead of teams. We've had some fortunate bounces, but we also play together and that has brought us this far.”
The Raiders will play Thursday at a site and time to be determined against the winner of Monday's first-round game that pitted Connellsville against Mt. Lebanon.
SV's top three scorers include senior midfielders Jackson Wotus (10 goals/5 assists) and Austin Myers (9 goals/5 assists) and junior midfielder Ben Francis (5 goals/5 assists).
Williams said of his defense, “It all starts with Will in goal. He's a leader when it comes to morale and is very vocal back there.”
The defensive starters include Keegan McVicker, Matt Stenglin, Marco DiBucci and Jake Smith. But Williams also has confidence in Justin Stopar and Chase Thomas. That reliance is key because it helps to keep the back line fresh.
The Raiders will not be idle between now and their quarterfinal game.
“We will scrimmage Mars on Thursday,” said Williams. “Other than that, we will do what we need to to stay in rhythm.”
SV's boys last won a section title in 2016.