After winning WPIAL title, GCC boys soccer turns focus to condensed state tournament

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Monday, November 9, 2020 | 5:19 PM


Only district champions make the PIAA soccer playoffs this year, so rematches against other WPIAL teams, practically a staple in the state postseason, is out of the question.

That not only makes for a new look to the state tournaments, but it also condenses the brackets to the point where teams only need two wins to get to the finals in Hershey.

Greensburg Central Catholic (15-1), fresh off back-to-back WPIAL titles, will open the PIAA playoffs against District 5 champion Rockwood (19-0) in a quarterfinal game Saturday.

The game’s start time and site have not been announced.

Three more wins and the Centurions could be celebrating their first state title.

The Centurions, who held on for a 3-2 victory over rival Winchester Thurston in the WPIAL final, are a confident bunch heading into the 10-team state tournament.

“This is one of the strongest teams I have been with,” GCC coach Tyler Solis said. “I really like this team in states. There is a sense with this team that we want more.”

Solis, who was doused with water from the Gatorade jug after Saturday’s repeat title on the turf at Gateway, said his players have talked about playing for a state title for much of the season.

Now that the WPIAL final is finished, talk can get real.

GCC has lost in the state semifinals two years in a row.

“We have prepared mentally for (the playoffs),” Solis said. “I don’t want them getting off the bus not being ready to play.”

Carlo Denis, Mason Fabean and Kyler Miller had goals in the title game as GCC built a 3-0 lead. The defense and goalkeeper Max House had to repel a number of scoring chances by Winchester Thurston down the stretch.

House made 12 saves in a stand-up effort.

GCC has shifted gears of late, at least stylistically, to put more emphasis on defense, adding balance to a team that has been ranked No. 1 all season.

The offense remains a threat, with players like Denis and Fabean creating shots wide and the Centurions stretching the field.

Solis challenged his team because he knew the Bears had plenty left in the tank and were about to mount an offensive.

They did, but GCC’s defense held together for what seemed like an eternity as Winchester Thurston peppered House with shots.

“The second half we said, ‘What can we do to improve individually?’” Solis said. “Everything was one-on-one. If I am playing you, I gotta make sure I’m winning this battle. If we do that throughout the field, we’re going to come out ahead.”

Fabean said GCC is somewhat unique in that it only uses three defenders in the back.

“The defense throughout the playoffs has been great,” said Fabean, who has 23 goals but shifts from the midfield to add stability on defense. “I usually will come back to center back to help out my teammate, Max Szekely, hold it down after we are up by like two goals.”

Fabean plays center back in club soccer.

“We are excited about this opportunity,” Fabean said. “We got shut down in the semifinals last year, so we fully expect to make it to Hershey this year.”

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

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