Freedom girls defeat Greensburg Central Catholic in 2OT in wild WPIAL Class A semifinal

Monday, October 31, 2022 | 9:56 PM

If any team has been a thorn in Freedom’s side in recent years, it’s Greensburg Central Catholic.

GCC had knocked the Bulldogs out of the WPIAL and PIAA Class A girls soccer playoffs four times in three years.

Shaye Bailey had seen enough.

Bailey took a high through ball and outraced two defenders before burying the game-winner with 1 minutes, 54 seconds to play in the second overtime Monday night as top-seeded Freedom edged No. 5 GCC, 4-3, in a back-and-forth WPIAL semifinal at North Allegheny.

The fifth postseason meeting in four years between the teams went to the Bulldogs. Finally, Freedom rings.

“We have been playing them since my freshman year,” Bailey said. “We pulled together and got the win. We waited for that opportunity and finally got it.”

Freedom (16-4) moves on to play No. 2 Springdale (16-3) in the championship game Friday at Highmark Stadium at a time to be announced.

“It’s sweet justice,” Freedom coach Colin Williams said. “They beat us (last year) 4-3 in overtime (in WPIAL semifinals) and 1-0 (in the PIAA playoffs). You know it’s always going to be a game like this when you play GCC. It’s been four years since we made the final. Let’s put it through now.”

GCC (12-5) will play Waynesburg (16-4) in the WPIAL third-place game Wednesday at a time and site to be determined.

“It hurts to see this result after the girls worked so hard,” GCC first-year coach Kara Batey said. “They were not ready to walk off that field.”

Finley Paxton sent a high ball over the top, and Bailey did the rest as exhaustion was setting in on both sides.

Bailey, who has 31 goals, scraped her way around two defenders and shot top-right corner past GCC keeper Leah Jones for the golden goal that sent the Bulldogs to the finals.

“I knew it was going to come to me,” Bailey said. “I just turned my head, took a really long touch and found a new gear.”

GCC rallied from a 2-0 deficit and again from 3-2 down. The Centurions, though, despite controlling possession in extra time, could not get over the top.

“It was anybody’s game. We held possession,” Batey said. “It only takes a couple seconds to get one on you.”

Julia Mohrbacher gave Freedom a 2-0 lead with goals in the fifth and 12th minutes.

But the Bulldogs knew they could not sit back. Not with Sara Felder on the other side.

The Youngstown State commit answered with her 29th and 30th goals of the season, the latter coming on a soaring, 30-yard free kick that somehow found the top-right corner past Trinity Votjko to make it 2-2 in the 38th minute.

Felder and Mohrbacher both have over 100 career goals.

“We knew they had two good players (Felder and Riley Kerr),” Williams said. “We contained them as best as we could. GCC showed good character coming back in the second half.

“Our keeper was tremendous tonight. She is only a freshman.”

Votjko finished with 12 saves.

Freedom went ahead 3-2 as the late-half flurry continued. This time, Brianna Casto bumped in a corner kick from Paxton a minute later to give Freedom a one-goal edge at the break.

After GCC had the tying goal waved off because of an offsides call on Kerr, the equalizer came from Sophia Fischer, who ran wide right and connected from 20 yards to make it 3-3 with about 16 minutes remaining in regulation.

“She’s our silent storm,” Batey said of Fischer.

In the first overtime, GCC had the better of play, with Felder nearly ending it on a pair of quality attempts, one of which was stopped by Votjko.

Bailey’s near-goal from deep was stuffed by Leah Jones with 2 minutes left in the first extra frame.

Jones had eight saves for GCC, which was playing in its 13th straight semifinal.

Kerr nearly connected on a cross from Felder before Bailey finally won a run-out to victory.

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

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