GCC girls again meet Windber in PIAA tournament
After completing a WPIAL Class A championship run, Greensburg Central Catholic knew it needed to start over for the PIAA girls soccer tournament.
The Centurions (16-3) took their first step toward a state title with a 3-2 win over Brockway on Tuesday. They continue their march at 2 p.m. Saturday against Windber (21-1) at Somerset High School.
“I am excited to make it this far and really proud of the girls and their hard work. It's nice to see the hard work pay off,” GCC coach Ashley Davis said.
It's the seventh PIAA quarterfinal appearance in a row for Greensburg Central Catholic.
“The girls are pretty good at just taking it one step at a time,” Davis said. “A lot of the girls have been here before, so they know what it takes. At the same time, we have some freshmen and other girls who are new to the team this year, and it's their first time.
“For some of the girls, it's the first time they've gotten to play and win a WPIAL championship, too. I am excited for them.”
The Centurions beat the Ramblers, 7-0, in the first round of last year's PIAA tournament. But they're not looking past the District 5 champs.
“They didn't have too many girls graduate. I know they have some good players,” Davis said. “We just have to be prepared for a really good team.”
“I know we beat Windber last year, but I am sure they are going to come out as just strong as anybody else,” senior Sydney Ward said. “I think coach Ashley is just focusing on us and building the team coming off the wins we've had. We don't want to get too relaxed.”
Getting the first PIAA tournament win out of the way was huge, Ward said.
“Coming off the WPIAL championship, we didn't want to come out slow or relaxed,” she said. “Even though we were nervous, we were able to pull it off in the end.”
Ward helped GCC punch its ticket to the quarterfinals with a pair of goals. Her second came 22 seconds after Brockway tied it at 2-2 in the second half.
“We needed the last one at the end. We worked hard for that,” Ward said. “It was good we were able to bounce back after they scored their goals.”
The goals against were the first the Centurions yielded since they beat Eden Christian, 7-1, to open the WPIAL tournament.
“Our goalkeeper, Bella Skatell, is great. She works hard. Our defense is really strong,” Ward said. “I think we broke down in the midfield a little, which led to some breakaways. We were able to work hard and battle back, though.”
Windber hopes to put some pressure on the Centurions this year. Almost every starter returns from last year's team.
“I told the girls to take the game with Greensburg last year as experience but have a short memory,” Windber coach B. Paul Buza said. “I don't think that loss was indicative of the type of team we had. I think the stage was a little big for them.”
This year, the Ramblers secured the program's first PIAA tournament win with a 3-2 triumph over Bishop McCort.
“The girls are hungry. They have been hungry to get to this spot since last November,” Buza said. “I think the key for us is to play our game and play aggressively and not lose focus. We have to stay on a mission and realize we're not too big for this stage.”
Kacey Costlow (23 goals) and Madison Leitenberger (16) are Windber's main offensive threats. The Centurions rely on a balanced attack with Brenna Springer, Sarah Orndoff, Samantha Felder and Ward leading the way.
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.