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Geibel boys soccer team loses playoff opener

| Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, 12:30 a.m.
Christine Pocratsky | For the Daily Courier
Serra's Andrew Yuill (9) controls the ball against Geibel's Chris Martin during a WPIAL Class A first-round playoff game Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 at Laurel Highlands High School.
Christine Pocratsky | For the Daily Courier
Serra's Grant Taylor (left) battles Geibel's Bailey McIntyre during a WPIAL Class A first-round playoff game Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 at Laurel Highlands High School.
Christine Pocratsky | For the Daily Courier
Geibel's Nelson DiBiase (left) battles Serra's Tyler Grebur during a WPIAL Class A first-round playoff game Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 at Laurel Highlands High School.
Christine Pocratsky | For the Daily Courier
Serra's Nick Lentz (14) battles for control of the ball with Geibel's Chris Martin (23) during a WPIAL Class A first-round playoff game Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 at Laurel Highlands High School.

Often times in the postseason, the team with the most big-game experience is the one that rises to the top. That was the case Monday, when the playoff-savvy Serra Catholic boys soccer team met upstart Geibel in a WPIAL Class A first-round playoff game at Laurel Highlands.

Tyler Grebur scored a hat trick as the Eagles (13-3-1) rolled into the second round with a convincing 3-0 victory over the Gators (10-7-2).

The Eagles, who came within one win of qualifying for the state tournament last season, seemed at ease early. The Gators, who were making their first playoff appearance since 2010, seemed a bit shell-shocked to start the game.

The first 20 minutes of the game proved to be the most pivotal. Grebur hit the back of the net twice to give Serra a 2-0 lead.

“We came out fast and we got the two goals,” Serra coach Don Sabol said. “But give Geibel credit. They possessed the ball for the last 10 minutes of the first half and the middle portion of the second half, which we didn't really like.”

Fortunately for Serra, the Gators were forced to play catch-up for nearly the entire game. Grebur got the Eagles on the board just six minutes when he redirected a pass in the box with a perfect header that eluded Geibel keeper Kyle Toth for a 1-0 edge. Then, with just over 20 minutes to play in the half, Grebur struck again. This time, the senior forward beat a defender and slid a low shot past Toth from a sharp angle.

The goals marked the 70th and 71st goals of Grebur's career. He is the team's all-time leading goal scorer.

“Whatever the challenge, he is there for us,” Sabol said. “I can't say enough about Tyler.”

However, after Grebur's second goal, the Gators began to stabilize. A couple of big saves by Toth kept his team in the game. Geibel began to control the ball at an increasing rate, but they simply couldn't get many quality scoring chances against a tough Serra defense. And when they did get a shot, keeper Anthony Koval was there to make the save.

“We had nerves and jitters at the beginning of the game, and it cost us two goals,” Geibel coach Mike Grant said. “Once we got rid of the jitters, I think that we were evenly matched teams.”

In the second half, the Gators kept trying to attack but just couldn't get on the board. James Ewing and Bailey McIntyre had a couple of chances but couldn't line up clear shots from in the box.

Then, with 10 minutes left, Grebur sealed the win by streaking down the right side, cutting into the middle and slipping a shot into the net for his third goal of the game and 72nd of his career.

Grant Taylor notched two assists, and Nate Andrews added one for the Eagles.

Serra will play Our Lady of Sacred Heart on Thursday.

“As you move on, it keeps getting tougher,” Sabol said. “We have to get ready. We saw our strengths and weaknesses, and we have to work on both.”

For the Gators, even though the season ended with a loss in the first round of the playoffs, the fact that Geibel made it this far is commendable considering they did it with just 13 players, and sometimes less.

“I'm very proud of the way the kids have played, and the way they've worked and what they've accomplished,” Grant said, noting that he will miss the contributions of seniors Kyle Kozura, Patrick Teich, Patrick Nahhas and Neil Solan. “I'm very proud of what these kids have done.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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