Carlo Denis, Greensburg Central Catholic boys leap semifinal hurdle into state title game

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020 | 9:40 PM


Ryan Reitler’s curling corner kick made its way to Greensburg Central Catholic teammate Mason Fabean, who put a firm header on frame.

But the ball was deflected by Brockway keeper Lewis Painter, who had played a spirited game to that point.

The problem for Brockway was Carlo Denis was waiting. Waiting as if he knew the ball would come to him. Waiting for another chance. Waiting to finally get the Centurions over a painstaking hurdle.

The sophomore’s right-place, right-time moment — and his late-game heroics, which have become so important to GCC in the playoffs — ended up extending his team’s season. He smacked in the deflection off his knee with 7 minutes, 31 seconds left to propel the Centurions past District 9 champion Brockway, 2-1, in the PIAA Class A semifinals Tuesday night at Norwin.

GCC (17-1) advances to the state finals for the first time and will play Faith Christian (15-1) at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Hershey.

“I just knew I had to get to it and hit as quick as I could,” said Denis, who scored both goals, one early and one late. It was his second straight two-goal performance in the state playoffs.

“This team played us really tough,” he added.

The Centurions advanced after falling in the state semis the last two years.

“Mason had a big header there to set up that goal,” GCC coach Tyler Solis said. “I am so happy for these guys. I told them if it’s meant to be, it’s going to happen. I’m so glad it did.”

Brockway (15-3), winner of four straight District 9 titles, was making its fifth straight appearance in the state tournament. But a WPIAL team knocked out the Rovers for the third consecutive year.

Painter did his best to keep GCC at bay, making 10 saves.

Fabean, who had a couple of heavy-footed shots denied by Painter, nearly scored on the late corner.

“I thought I scored there,” he said. “I told Ryan to send it to the back post, and he did. I attacked it. This feels so good after getting knocked out two years in a row.”

Fans were barely settled into their seats again after the national anthem when the Centurions struck first. Denis created his own shot and scored past Painter for a 1-0 lead just two minutes in.

“We didn’t know much about this team,” Denis said. “It took five or 10 minutes to figure things out. They put more bodies on me. Our defense really stepped up tonight.”

Brockway came up with an equalizer in the 27th minute when Jared Marchiori quickly reared back and fired on a short-range free kick to make it 1-1.

“We came out and started the way we wanted to,” Solis said. “As soon as we scored (first), I knew this could be a big game. We possessed the ball well as a team. My message to our guys was no matter what happened as far as calls or whatever, just keep playing.”

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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