Student-Athlete Profile: Senior Forward Ava Ruppersberger
The 2019 season was one for the record books for the North Allegheny girls’ soccer team. The Tigers went 18-3-1, captured their first undefeated section crown and the first WPIAL title in program history. For senior forward Ava Ruppersberger, the accomplishments this season are made even sweeter considering the humble beginnings of her varsity career.
“My freshman year coming into NA, we didn’t even make the playoffs,” said Ruppersberger. “For us to close out our senior year that way and win the championship, that was huge.”
Despite a losing season in 2016, the foundation for the steady rise of the North Allegheny girls’ soccer program was in place. A starter since her freshman season, Ruppersberger helped the Tigers go from a 7-10-1 record in 2016 to a combined 43-17-3 record over the next three seasons.
Ruppersberger was part of a deep and talented senior class that consisted of seven players that contributed in nearly every facet of the game.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to spend all that time with. Everyone was super nice and super hard working, and we were all on the same page. I think that’s what really helped us achieve our goals this year.”
During NA’s magical run in the 2019 playoffs, Ruppersberger tallied the first of three goals in a 3-0 WPIAL quarterfinal win over Penn-Trafford. In the WPIAL semifinals, Ruppersberger was one of four Tigers who scored in a dramatic penalty kick shootout, propelling NA to a 2-1 (OT, PK) triumph over Peters Township.
Four years of hard work for the senior class culminated on Oct. 31 at Highmark Stadium when North Allegheny knocked off perennial girls’ soccer favorite Norwin, 2-0, for the Class AAAA championship. Ruppersberger helped set up the first goal of the game, initiating a three-on-one break that led to a Sarah Schupansky tally with 33:26 remaining in the second half. Fellow senior Hannah Kirkpatrick put the game on ice, scoring with just over two minutes to play.
“I could not have asked for a better season…it was honestly one of the best moments of my life.”
Despite eventually bowing out in the PIAA quarterfinals to Boyertown in overtime, 3-2, the loss did not spoil an historic season for the North Allegheny girls’ soccer program and the senior class.
“It means so much. For us to finally put it together, and to have it be our senior class that got to do it, it was really exciting.”
Ruppersberger has been one of the top scorers for NA over the last four seasons. She netted nine goals in 2019, ranking third best on the team. Last fall, Ruppersberger earned All-WPIAL accolades and was named first-team all-section by the Big 56 Conference for a third straight year.
The younger sister of Olivia Ruppersberger, who was the starting goalkeeper for NA from 2016-2017, Ava Ruppersberger will continue her soccer career next season at William Smith College in Geneva, NY. The William Smith Herons are one of the top NCAA Division III women’s soccer programs in the country and reached the national championship game this past fall. William Smith concluded the year with a 21-2-1 record and finished No. 2 in the nation in the final United Soccer Coaches and D3soccer.com polls.