Greensburg Central Catholic girls headed back to finals

| Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, 9:12 p.m.

Greensburg Central Catholic's Fran Crouse spoiled the ending of New Brighton's Cinderella story, as she led the top-seeded Centurions to a 10-2 win over the upstart No. 12 seed Monday night at Hampton's Fridley Field.

The Centurions (17-1) move on to the WPIAL finals, where they will face Shady Side Academy at Highmark Stadium on Friday or Saturday at a time to be determined.

With 14 minutes remaining, Crouse scored four times in a span of six minutes to ice the victory.

“I knew I had to step it up,” she said.

Crouse found the net five times to push her career total to 199 goals.

Malea Fabean added a hat trick and assisted on a pair of Crouse's scores. She extended her state record to 116 career assists.

Freshman midfielder Bailey Cartwright scored the other two goals for Greensburg Central Catholic.

New Brighton (11-7-1) had a standout player of its own in Maya Watkins.

The sophomore kept the match interesting with a pair of first-half goals, and her team trailed 5-2 at halftime.

Watkins scored all eight of New Brighton's goals this postseason.

“They came out strong and we had to adjust,” Greensburg Central Catholic coach Ashley Shasko said. “We needed to control the ball more in the second half, and we did that.”

Watkins was hobbled with a lower- body injury in the second half, which all but sealed the Lions' fate.

Lions keeper Kailey Bonner kept the game tight. She had nine saves and no problem leaving her area to disrupt the Centurions' offense.

Both coaches used the same word to describe her play: Fearless. She won the respect of her opponents as well.

“She was way better than we were expecting,” Crouse said.

This season marked the first postseason appearance for New Brighton, and the Lions made it a memorable one.

They upset No. 5 seed South Allegheny, 2-1, in the first round before taking out fourth-seeded Neshannock, 4-3, in the quarterfinals.

The Centurions, who have beaten Mohawk (10-1) and Springdale (7-1) in the playoffs, are the defending WPIAL and PIAA champions.

New Brighton coach Mandi Cwynar said a repeat of both titles may be in the works.

“After seeing them in person, I don't know if anyone is going to beat them,” Cwynar said.

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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