Greensburg Central Catholic girls defend PIAA soccer championship
HERSHEY — Fran Crouse was unhappy with the way the Greensburg Central Catholic girls soccer team worked in the first half of Friday's PIAA Class A championship game.
Poor, poor Southern Columbia.
The Tigers pretty much were helpless as Crouse, the PIAA's all-time leading scorer, rattled off a pair of highlight-reel goals to propel the Centurions to a 2-1 win and their second consecutive state title.
“We changed our work ethic,” said Crouse, a Penn State recruit who finished her high school career with 208 goals. “We came out a little slow. We realized that they were getting to every ball, and we weren't.
“We had to step up our game and win those balls.”
Greensburg Central Catholic (21-2) stepped up its game and avoided another big-game heartbreak. The Centurions were upset in the WPIAL final, but they rebounded by crushing four PIAA opponents 19-4.
“I had a lot of confidence in this team,” Greensburg Central Catholic coach Ashley Shasko said. “I'm so proud of the fighting spirit that we've shown and the character that we've shown throughout this season.”
One of those performances came from goalkeeper Olivia Binda, who played the entire season with a torn ACL in her left knee. Binda finally will have surgery this week.
“We were nervous (early on),” Binda said. “We had to calm down.”
Southern Columbia goalkeeper Abbey Herr made several saves early, including a key stop of Colby Crouse's header from Fran Crouse's feed in the 14th minute.
Moments later, Crouse's 60-foot shot hit the top of the post and bounced away.
Mackenzie Clark made it 1-0 in the 29th minute when she took a feed from Alyssa Stavinski and created a mini-breakaway to Binda's right, tucking a shot inside the near post.
Greensburg Central Catholic had an 11-2 edge in shots at halftime, and Crouse had an open look for No. 12 early in the second. But her juke-stop-and-shoot move sailed high.
Stavinski had a similar thing happen in the 53rd, as she approached a loose ball about 20 yards out but shanked a shot left.
After opening the game with Pitt recruit Malea Fabean as a defender, which she did in the PIAA semifinals against Shady Side Academy, Shasko brought Fabean up to help on offense.
“We weren't giving it our best in the first half,” said Fabean, who had 46 goals this season and 152 for her career. “We needed to pick it up.”
Crouse, who had 66 goals this season, tied it in the 55th minute by splitting a pair of defenders and flipping a shot near post to Herr's right.
She got the game-winner in the 73rd minute after chipping a ball ahead to herself, chasing it down, then burying a left-footed blast.
Asked whether there's anything different his team could've done to stop Crouse, who had 25 goals in eight playoff games, Southern Columbia coach Derek Stine could only shake his head.
“Probably not, honestly,” Stine said. “She was just that good.”