Crouse's hat trick leads Greensburg Central in shutout of Wilmington
Greensburg Central Catholic senior Frannie Crouse tied the WPIAL career goals record Saturday afternoon and in the process helped her team set up a showdown with Shady Side Academy for a berth in the PIAA title game.
Crouse scored three goals less than nine minutes into the Class A quarterfinal match as the Centurions (19-2) routed Wilmington, 9-0, at North Allegheny's Newman Stadium. Her hat trick tied Steel Valley's Jess Strom for the top spot in WPIAL girls soccer with 205 career goals.
Greensburg Central will play Shady Side Academy in the semifinals Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. Shady Side defeated Richland in its quarterfinal Saturday.
Shady Side knocked off the Centurions in the WPIAL title game on Nov. 2 after losing nine straight to Greensburg Central.
In Saturday's game against Wilmington (13-8-1),the Centurions attacked early and often.
“That's what we set out to do,” said GCC coach Ashley Shasko. “The beginnings of these games are so important to set the tone, and we did a good job of that.”
“We knew the challenge going into this,” said Wilmington coach Ben Bailey. “Our defenders wanted to be up to the challenge. We didn't pack it in the back like everybody else did to see what they would do. We saw what they would do.”
Crouse's first goal came three minutes and 13 seconds into the action, firing a shot through the diving arms of Greyhounds goalkeeper Ally Hahn.
Her second goal came off a pass from Bailey Cartwright just 79 seconds later.
Crouse reached the WPIAL standard with 31:05 left in the half, assisted by Domenique Stauffer.
Crouse also assisted on the next three goals, two by Malea Fabean and one by freshman Cartwright, giving GCC a 6-0 advantage with 8:56 left in the half.
While the Centurions peppered Hahn with a barrage of shots, the Greensburg Central defense didn't allow any sustained attacks by Wilmington.
The first two Greyhounds shots on goal came from at least 20 yards out.
Two Centurions defenders often converged on Wilmington players, even after routine throw-ins.
In one instance, Greyhounds standout Kyler Lum, who's headed for Youngstown State University on a scholarship, had her path to the goal halted by Shannon Salley.
“We've been working on our defense all week,” Shasko said. “It's good to see a good performance out of them.”
Lum, with more than 100 career goals, tallied twice in Wilmington's 2-1 overtime victory over Sewickley Academy in opening round play Tuesday.
“I only had one offensive player, it makes playing defense easier when you don't have anybody to play defense against,” Bailey said. “We just didn't possessions through and didn't get our passes where they needed to be. They were quick and skilled defensively.”
Fabean also secured her own hat trick with an unassisted goal with 1:40 to go in the half. That put the PIAA's continuous clock rules in effect for the second half.
The state finals are scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium. Greensburg Central won last year's PIAA finals by defeating Conwell-Egan, 2-1.
George Guido is a freelance writer.