After temporary coaching change, GCC girls soccer in position to claim 7th WPIAL title

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019 | 4:44 PM


Ashley Davis returned a few weeks ago to resume coaching the Greensburg Central Catholic girls soccer team following a break for maternity leave.

What she saw when she came back surprised her. Impressed her, even.

Bri Guy, who took over the team at the start of the season and remains an assistant, made some tweaks to not only the Centurions’ formation, but also to its attitude.

“This is the most skilled team we have had since I’ve been here,” Davis said. “Bri really helped to build up a team atmosphere over the summer. They have followed her lead.”

The talent oozes from the Centurions’ lineup but it’s the self-assessment that could be the intangible that lands GCC another WPIAL championship.

Fifth-seeded GCC (14-3) will play for its seventh WPIAL Class A girls soccer title — its sixth since 2011 — when it takes on rival No. 3 Shady Side Academy (16-1) at 4 p.m. Friday at Highmark Stadium.

The Centurions will take the field with traits they learned from, and honed alongside, Davis and Guy.

Davis said Monday’s 4-3 overtime win over previously unbeaten Freedom (20-1) — the top seed and the defending WPIAL champ and PIAA runner-up — proved how far the team has come.

“I think we have been working on a lot of things throughout the season, with what Coach Bri has done and with the girls playing together,” Davis said. “In this game, it kind of all came to a head.”

With such a talented group — one that has three seniors, six juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen — sharing the ball and spreading around the attention can be counterproductive.

Guy aimed to banish those issues, have the girls check their egos at the door and play as one.

“It’s more fun to win when you’re playing with 17 of your best friends,” Guy said. “We worked on teamwork and unity. One person doesn’t win you games and one person doesn’t lose them. It’s an I-need-you way of thinking. We had to get everybody on the same page.”

Strategically, Guy also made some changes to the 4-4-2 formation the Centurions worked out of last year.

The changes are subtle to an untrained soccer eye, but the players see them.

“Before it was defense, then midfield that led to offense,” Guy said. “Now it’s more from the midfield and we’re more in a a groove.”

Players have noticed the uptick in unity.

“I think Coach Bri helped to fuse the team together,” said senior midfielder Samantha Nemeth, who had a goal and assist against Freedom. She assisted her sister Jessica’s golden goal with 13 minutes, 56 seconds to play in overtime. “It gave us more options.”

GCC and Shady Side certainly have a history.

Since they become section opponents in 2010, they have owned Class A. GCC has five titles and the Indians have three, the last in 2016.

GCC won in 2017, defeating Shady Side, 1-0.

GCC has won 15 of 18 regular-season meetings against the Indians and is 6-5 against them in the playoffs. Shady Side’s only loss this season is to GCC — a 2-0 setback Sept. 9.

The Indians scored five unanswered goals to down Bentworth in the semis, 5-1. Callie Davis had a hat trick in the win.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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