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Greensburg Central Catholic girls reflect on 2nd straight PIAA title

Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic players pose with the trophy after winning the PIAA Class A girls soccer championship Nov. 14, 2013, at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey. Greensburg Central Catholic defeated Southern Columbia, 2-1, to claim the state championship.

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By Ed Phillipps
Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

This season was not another perfect sweep of titles for the Greensburg Central Catholic girls soccer team, but it sure had a perfect ending.

A year after taking WPIAL and PIAA gold, the Centurions defended their state title Friday with a 2-1 win over Southern Columbia.

“It was a dream come true for the players and coaches as well,” Centurions coach Ashley Shasko said.

After being upset by Section 4 nemesis Shady Side Academy in the WPIAL championship, the Centurions (21-2) earned revenge in the state tournament by scoring a 2-0 victory over the Indians.

“Ultimately our goal was a state championship,” said Fran Crouse, the state's all-time leading scorer. “WPIAL is another great championship to win, but we were definitely hoping for a PIAA win.

“Winning this year meant a lot to me because it was my senior year, and I wanted to finish strong.”

She certainly did that. Crouse scored both goals in the PIAA championship to boost her career total to 208. She netted 66 goals this year, including 25 in eight playoff games. The Penn State recruit shared the spotlight with another record holder, Malea Fabean, a Pitt recruit who had the most assists in state history with 117. She finished her career with 152 goals, making her the only player in state history with more than 100 career goals and assists.

During Crouse's and Fabean's four years on the team, the Centurions racked up a 81-9-1 record, including 40 consecutive section wins. They outscored opponents 562-79.

Crouse always will have the championship medals, but said she will miss the teammates she won them with.

“I had such a fun time the past four years,” she said. “I've been incredibly blessed by the people I've gotten to play with.”

The loss of two historically great players is a motivation for next season. The returning players are eager to create their own history.

“We were good with them, but I think we'll be pretty good without them,” goalkeeper Olivia Binda said. “We have a strong, young team coming up.”

Binda, a junior, registered eight shutouts and allowed only one goal in three PIAA playoff matches. If that wasn't impressive enough, consider this: she played this year with a torn left ACL.

Also returning for a team that saw every player besides Binda score a goal are Bailey Cartwright (24 goals, 25 assists), Megan Shearson (5 goals, 25 assists) and Abby Skattell (7 goals, 9 assists).

The Centurions played with a bulls eye on their backs all year long, as teams upped their game in an effort to knock off the champs. Next season will be no different. Binda said she expects strong challenges from Shady Side and Springdale in the section.

In order to move forward, the program must remember the past. Crouse and Fabean will be gone next season but not forgotten, as the team prepares for another title defense.

“Malea and Fran set such a good example of the quality of player we want in terms of skill, as well as their leadership,” Shasko said. “They set a good example and our underclassmen are ready to follow it.”

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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