After cruising through regular season, Greensburg Central Catholic girls ready for playoffs

| Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 9:20 p.m.

In the midst of a 13-game winning streak and having outscored opponents 121-9, the Greensburg Central Catholic girls soccer team appears to be firing on all cylinders.

The bad news for the rest of Class A is the defending WPIAL and PIAA champions are just getting started.

“I think we have another gear we can put it in before the playoffs,” goaltender Olivia Binda said. “We're in a whole different zone come playoffs.”

The way they are playing now makes it hard to envision an improved performance.

The No. 1 Centurions (13-1, 12-0 Section 4-A) have blitzed through the opposition, recording nine shutouts along the way entering Saturday's nonsection game against North Hills. Since a season-opening loss to Class AAA Pine-Richland, the closest margin of victory has been four goals. Five times the Centurions have won by 10 goals or more.

Leading the way are a pair of historically great players — seniors Malea Fabean and Frannie Crouse.

Fabean broke the state's all-time mark for career assists when she registered her 110th helper in a 10-0 victory over Jeannette on Wednesday. She has scored 141 goals in her career.

Crouse is closing in on a record as well: With 177 career goals, she is 30 away from becoming the WPIAL's all-time leading goal scorer.

This season, Fabean, a Pitt recruit, has 35 goals and 23 assists, while Crouse, who will play at Penn State, is at 35 goals and 15 assists. Both were named all-WPIAL the past three seasons and are shoo-ins to go 4 for 4.

Anyone thinking all that talent makes the Centurions roster top-heavy is mistaken.

Aside from Binda, each of the 18 other players on the roster have scored a goal this season. And those nine shutouts were no accident.

“Look at the season Olivia Binda is having,” coach Ashley Shasko said. “And you never even hear about it.”

As the offense has dominated, the defense is contributing, as well.

“The defense has been a good part of it,” senior defender Deanna Dicesere said. “If they need a pass, they kick it back to us. We help them get out of trouble. We are involved in getting those goals and keeping a shutout.”

With all the talent on the team, perhaps the best workout the girls get is going against each other in practice.

“We all compete among each other to be as good as the top players on our team,” junior midfielder Megan Shearson said. “It's good motivation.”

Shasko has a fun-loving group to work with, she said.

Her main problem?

Getting the girls to settle down when they meet up on the pitch after school.

She said practices can sometimes seem like a slumber party with all the chitchat.

That camaraderie goes a long way. If it were up to the players, the whole team would share each shutout or goal or any other individual statistic.

Binda says her stats are a reflection of the stellar defense, while defenders say they would not be as successful without the offense keeping control of the ball. The offense, in turn, credits the defenders with clearing balls and helping keep possession.

From this point forward, the Centurions are thinking defense, as in defending their WPIAL and PIAA championships after completing their third consecutive year undefeated in the section.

The blowout wins could very well become closer matches, and familiar section foes will be replaced by squads they only get one chance to figure out. Finding that extra gear could soon become a necessity.

“That's what it's going to come to during the playoffs,” Dicesere said. “To win a state title you have to set your standards high and play the best that you can play.”

If anyone knows how to do that, it's the battle-tested Centurions.

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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