Fresh looks for PIAA soccer quarterfinalists Franklin Regional, Greensburg Central Catholic

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Thursday, November 11, 2021 | 4:24 PM


Joey Bayne figured prominently into the Franklin Regional attack, only not this soon and not this much.

He is, after all, a freshman whose best days appeared to lie ahead.

But the wide-eyed striker is making a significant impact now, and on a large stage.

Bayne scored both goals Tuesday night, including the winner in overtime, as the Panthers squeaked past Cathedral Prep, 2-1, in Erie to return to the PIAA quarterfinals.

“He was fantastic,” Franklin Regional coach Thomas Louisy said. “He has helped to take pressure off of some of our other guys.

“He pays attention to details. He’s been getting opportunities to start since Day 1. He is a confident kid.”

Franklin Regional (17-4) will play Hampton (20-1) in a rematch of the WPIAL semifinals at noon Saturday at North Allegheny.

The Panthers also played a freshman goalkeeper in the state opener: Noah Walker, who stopped at least a dozen shots.

Sophomore Aryan Selokar injured his thumb at practice and could not go Tuesday after going through warm-ups, so Walker took over between the pipes.

“He works hard and trains hard to be ready for moments like that,” Louisy said of Walker.

Freshmen also are doing big things at Greensburg Central Catholic, where the boys and girls teams have advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals.

Jackson Vacanti is contributing to the Centurions’ postseason success as a forward/midfielder who plays wide in the team’s multiple formations.

Vacanti has 13 goals and 14 assists for GCC (16-4), which will play a WPIAL semifinal rematch at noon Saturday against Eden Christian (19-3-1).

GCC has a boys-girls doubleheader at West Allegheny in Imperial.

Vacanti scored the winning goal in overtime when the teams met Nov. 2. GCC rallied from three, three-goal deficits to win, 6-5.

“I’ve been impressed with his composure in big spots,” GCC coach Rob Fabean said. “He lacks size and strength being three years younger than some defenders he’s up against, but his skill level has been extremely impressive.”

GCC defeated host McConnellsburg, 3-2, in the PIAA first round Tuesday. Vacanti had an assist in the win.

Fabean said he knew Vacanti previously from cup soccer.

“So I was more expecting him to fit right in regardless of only being a freshmen,” he said.

The GCC girls (16-2) also will get a WPIAL semifinal rematch when they take on Freedom (16-5) at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Freshman Riley Kerr has been a bright spot for the Centurions, who clipped Mercer, 3-2, to open the PIAA postseason Tuesday in Erie. The Centurions start four freshmen.

Kerr is the third-leading scorer for GCC behind junior Sara Felder and senior Tatum Gretz.

“Our freshmen play a key role in our success this year,” Felder said. “They all are hard workers and willing to do whatever it takes to go far. Riley has been a good attacking forward and a threat to the other teams’ defenses.”

Another midfielder/forward is Addison Vacanti, Jackson’s twin sister, and another ninth-grade contributor.

Another is Sophia Fisher, a forward, while freshmen defenders of note include Jillian Botti and Victoria Walters.

“All of our freshmen have made a big impact,” Gretz said. “They have really stepped up when we needed them to. They were outgoing and ready to start since the first practice.”

GCC girls assistant coach Sarah Ward, who is guiding the team along with Hope Cramer in the absence of head coach Olivia Kruger (maternity leave), started as a freshman when she played for the Centurions.

“There is pressure on the girls because there is such a legacy here,” Ward said. “But they are handling it well. They knew what to expect coming in.”

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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