PITTSBURGH — Jayden Sharpless' emotional outburst following her game-winning goal in double overtime of the WPIAL Class AA title game Saturday at Highmark Stadium matched the enthusiasm of her teammates.
The only difference was the North Catholic sophomore striker was experiencing that euphoria for the second time. While the Trojanettes made program history by beating Yough 1-0 to capture the school's first district crown, it was Sharpless' second championship.
Sharpless helped lead Freedom to an 8-2 win over Bentworth in the WPIAL 1A final last season.
“It's amazing. Winning with North was unreal,” Sharpless said. “It's like a family here. We deserved it and made history for North Catholic.”
North Catholic and Sharpless caught a break in double overtime. The Trojanettes were given an indirect free kick from 25 yards out after Yough (17-2-1) was whistled for a foul.
On the first attempt, North Catholic's Alexis Wateska faked a touch before Sharpless blasted a shot toward the top-right corner of the net, which was stopped by Cougars' keeper Sara Krofcheck.
But Yough was called for encroachment on the kick, which gave Sharpless another chance. The Cougars were also hit with a yellow card on defender Hadley Sleith for moving early.
“It's tough. I didn't necessarily have a problem with the second call with the encroachment because they did move,” Yough coach Larry Appolonia said. “He's calling the game by the letter of the law. Usually at the high school level, you don't get that much.”
Sharpless' second kick, which was first touched by Wateska, cleared the wall and found its way into the back of the net.
“We are lucky we got a second chance,” Sharpless said. “We didn't know we had to tap it. The second time around we did and it worked.”
Both teams struggled to generate offense throughout the match. Neither team was able to generate many good opportunities in regulation.
“We wanted to play them straight up,” Sharpless said. “We changed our formation a little when we put five in the middle. We felt we weren't as strong in the middle as they were. We changed that and only left me up top. We adjusted quickly and were good with it.”
Yough's best opportunity to score came five minutes into the first overtime.
Freshman forward McKenzie Pritts got a pass inside the box and blasted a shot that North Catholic goalkeeper Andrea Bean had to punch away with a diving effort.
“Andrea Bean saved the game for us,” North Catholic coach Emily Karr said. “She won the championship for us. She made the best save I've ever seen her make. It was point-blank.”
North Catholic approached the overtime with an emphasis on avoiding the shootout. Karr wanted the Trojanettes to attack.
“We were worried about heavy legs and our fitness and conditioning at that point of the game,” Karr said.
The Trojanettes (14-4) were scheduled to play District 10 runner-up Mercyhurst Prep in the first round of the PIAA playoffs Tuesday.