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Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer chasing championship

| Friday, Oct. 26, 2012,
Greensburg Central Catholic forward Dakota Randolph takes a shot during their October 16, 2012 contest versus Hempfield Area in Hempfield Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic's Ben Brandon steals possession from Hempfield Area's Scott Fox during their October 16, 2012 contest in Hempfield Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

For the better part of the past seven years, a section game winning streak served as the identity of GCC boys soccer.

There's one way the 2012 Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer team can save its legacy in the pantheon of the Centurions' program: Win a WPIAL championship. Then, everyone will forget about a section loss.

A 4-1 win in a first-round game against Riverview Monday kept GCC (13-4-1) unbeaten in its past 11 games against Class A teams heading into a WPIAL Class A quarterfinal matchup against Bishop Canevin, which was scheduled for Thursday.

As the No. 4 seed in the bracket, the Centurions are on the short list of favorites capable of contending for the WPIAL title.

Championship-caliber teams are nothing new at GCC, which was on a 70-0-1 run in section games dating back to 2005 before a 2-1 loss to South Allegheny Sept. 13.

Before the season, senior Jack Fagan, a team leader and top offensive threat, called the section winning streak “a personal goal,” and “we don't want to be that class to give that up.”

Now that it has, there are even more important goals to conquer.

“When it happened, yeah, the seniors really took it tough,” Centurions coach Tom Sochacki said. “But I told them one game doesn't define you. Yeah, it was a good legacy, but everything has to come to an end.

“I challenged them on that day, ‘What do you want to be remembered for? You can still win a championship. That's something that not all Central teams own.' ”

Just getting to this point means GCC has overcome plenty. The Centurions were injury-riddled at the start of the season (including being without Fagan) and lost two of their first three games.

Later in the season, GCC was healthy — but perhaps fatigued. Partially do to rescheduled cancellations, the Centurions played eight games in 11 days to close out the regular season.

“First, we had to get Jack back, and we battled all year to get healthy,” Sochacki said. “There's probably been seven or eight games we've been pretty healthy — and then, we've had to play a bunch of games together.

“It's been a wild season so far. We'll take (13-4-1) after we started out the year 1-2 and with the teams we've played.”

Sochacki said Fagan already has multiple college scholarship offers and that sweeper Devon Nguyen and midfielders Justin Nolfi and Dakota Randolph are among the others who will be playing college soccer next season if they choose.

“There's a really, really strong senior class, and then from there, you go down the line,” Sochacki said. “There's some quality juniors, (standout forward) Adam Tucker is only a sophomore, we started a freshman (Riley Slike) at midfield all year every game. It's a team that's only gotten better.”

Tucker led the Centurions in goals during the regular season with 14, followed by Fagan's 13 and nine assists in less than two-thirds of a full season.

Fagan is at the forefront of an 11-member senior class that was, to varying degrees, part of the 2009 WPIAL championship team. The previous two seasons, GCC advanced to the WPIAL semifinals, including losing in the title game last season.

At least seven of those seniors are playing significant roles during what GCC hopes is another lengthy playoff run this season.

“If you look at what they've been through the last few years,” Sochacki said, “they're hoping to make one final run at this thing.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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