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GCC girls soccer team overpowers Springdale

| Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, 11:10 p.m.
Greensburg Central Catholic's Frannie Crouse (left) smiles as Springdale's Alex Gradwell (No. 6) is consoled by Samantha Terry following their playoff game Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, at Gateway High School. Erica Hilliard | Tribune-Review

The Springdale and Greensburg Central Catholic girls soccer teams have shared joy and agony over the last three seasons on the 10 occasions the section rivals have met.

But for all of the nail-biting section and playoff encounters the two sides enjoyed and suffered through in their recent rivalry, Wednesday night's WPIAL Class A quarterfinal matchup was the most lopsided.

Behind a four-goal effort from prolific junior forward Frannie Crouse, the top-seeded Centurions defeated No. 9 Springdale, 7-0, at Gateway.

The seven-goal margin of victory was the highest achieved by either side since the teams joined Section 4-A in 2010. The previous high was two. GCC (17-1) has won 17 straight since its season-opening defeat at Fox Chapel.

“They're a great team, and they're well-coached. We have the utmost respect for them. They always bring us a great game, and we get better every time we play them,” GCC coach Ashley Shasko said. “But, you know, we brought it to this game. We were mentally prepared.

The Dynamos (9-11) came out in a resolute defensive formation and sat its midfield deep to support its back line.

Though the underdogs capably absorbed pressure during the opening moments, a snap-header off of a corner kick from Centurions junior forward Malea Fabean found the back of the net. The first of her two goals gave GCC a 1-0 lead near the 10-minute mark.

“We have an attacking mentality, and that's the way we want to play all our games,” Shasko said. “We want to be on the attack, and we did that.”

Springdale had a chance to tie the score a few minutes later when a scramble in front of the GCC goal gave freshman forward Casey Hughes a sight of the goal, but her shot went just wide.

“It was a big moment, but you know, credit to Casey, it was a tough ball to finish,” Springdale coach Jerry Concannon said. “She's moving sideways; the ball's going sideways. She tried to come around it and get it, but it couldn't quite get it.”

Less than a minute later, Crouse worked her way into the Springdale box, cut inside and fired a low, sure shot past freshman goalkeeper Stephanie Manning to extend GCC's lead to 2-0.

Down, 3-0, at the half, Springdale threw an extra forward into the attack. But possession was difficult to come by, and after a handful of solid saves from Manning, the Dynamos were eventually overwhelmed.

While Fabean and sophomore forward Italia Biondi also stood out, Crouse, a Penn State recruit who has played for the U.S. U-17 women's national team, appeared to perform at another level.

Beyond her ability to strike the ball cleanly and with intent, her off-the-ball movements and short, efficient passing helped give the GCC attack an impressive fluidity.

“I just try to be a team player and take on what I need to take on for the team,” said Crouse, who has scored more than 40 goals this season. “I try to be unselfish.”

Despite finishing with a losing record thanks in part to a brutal nonsection schedule, Concannon looked at Springdale's season as a success.

“From a program standpoint, it was a perfectly good season,” Concannon said. “Our program is solid. And over time, I'll be able to look back at this season and say it was one of the reasons why we were successful in the future.”

Stephen Catanese is a freelance writer.

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