The Daily News spotlight athletes: Serra Catholic's Tyler Grebur, Elizabeth Forward's Hannah Saunders
Claim to fame: Grebur scored 15 goals in the regular season, helping the Serra Catholic boys soccer team to a 15-2-1 overall record and 8-1-1 section mark, which was good for a share of the Section 1-A title with Greensburg Central Catholic. With just 48 second left in regulation, the junior scored his second goal of the playoffs to defeat Winchester Thurston on Thursday and sent the Eagles into the WPIAL Class A semifinals, where they will face Riverside on Wednesday.
“Tyler has always been one of our high goal scorers,” coach Don Sabol said. “This is his third year as a starter. He scored 10 as freshman, and he had 15 this year. This is right where I would expect him to be.”
Are you excited to be playing deep into the playoffs?
I am very excited. We did much better than I expected. We won our first section title, which we split with Greensburg Central Catholic. That was our first goal. It was tough, but we got it done. Our next goal is to win a WPIAL title.
What do you think is the team's biggest strength?
I would say our confidence and the fact that we work so well together. Some teams yell at each other or they're just not ready as a team. We get organized, and we help our teammates when they make mistakes. I think those two things — our confidence and how we help each other out — are our biggest strengths.
What do you have to do to continue this success?
We have to just keep playing our game. We need to keep talking to each other, and we have to come into this next game (against Riverside) really pumped up. We can't take them for granted. We kind of took Winchester for granted. We have to take this one game at a time and be ready.
How did it feel to score the game-winner against Winchester Thurston?
There were only 48 seconds left when I scored. It felt amazing. After the game, my teammates huddled around and chanted my name. It was the best feeling I've ever had.
School: Elizabeth Forward
Claim to fame: Saunders was named to the all-section team as a sophomore and has added all-tournament honors for the Elizabeth Forward and Big Eight tournaments this season. The junior helped the Warriors to an 11-1 record and a share of the section title. They will play Hopewell at West Allegheny on Wednesday in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals. Saunders has also played with the Penn Highlands Club team (ranked second in the Ohio Valley Region) since seventh grade.
“Hannah has been our most consistent player this year,” coach Lindsay Lesofsky said. “She's a great leader on and off the court and has been very important to our success. She was our top server last year, and she's continued that into this year. She is very smart with where she puts the ball on serves. She's got great court awareness.”
Why has your team been so successful this season?
I think because we've been together for so long. We have very good team chemistry. That helps us come together and pull out wins all the time. Most of us have been playing together since seventh grade. My class has been the same since then. Ever since we came in as freshmen, we've been close with the class above us, and we all get along really well.
Do you like being considered a leader?
I like being a leader because it helps me be cautious of my attitude. When I'm on the court, I like knowing that others are feeding off of how I play. There is a little bit of pressure that comes with it, but I like that. It makes me play better.
Do you change your game plan much for each match?
We usually keep it the same, but it depends on the team we're playing. Sometimes, we have adjustments we need to make. We practice those a lot, as well. When we played TJ the first time, they were really good at running 31s, so for the week before we played them the second time we focused on blocks, which helped us beat them.
What do you like to do besides play volleyball?
I like the outdoors a lot. I also do track but my main focus is volleyball. I like to go running and swimming in the summer.
— Robert Stinner