Freshman Doering scores OT winner as Steel Valley beats GCC for 1st WPIAL soccer title

Friday, November 5, 2021 | 9:09 PM

Therese Doering was in the right place to win it for Steel Valley, but earlier this season, it seemed like she might not be on the field at all.

Doering, a freshman midfielder, redirected a free kick into the goal nine minutes into the overtime period to give Steel Valley its first WPIAL title in girls soccer, 2-1 over Greensburg Central Catholic in the Class A final Friday night at Highmark Stadium.

The moment of glory for Doering came after she nearly opted out of playing for the Ironmen (18-3-0) earlier in the season.

“We had a rough go in the middle of the year where she actually quit the team for a couple of days. She wasn’t comfortable there,” Ironmen coach Bill Abraham said. “I went over and talked to her and told her, ‘You don’t want to miss this. You just don’t.’ And she came back the next day, and since that day, she’s been really good. From that day on is when she got most of her goals.”

The winning goal came from a long free kick lofted into the box by Kylie Salopek. Soraya Gibbs, who earlier scored the tying goal for Steel Valley, was first to the ball, but Doering put it home with a finish that caromed off a defender and into the net.

“I just hit it, and it went in,” said a smiling Doering, whose soft-spoken answers tended to have fewer words than she had goals in her freshman season (13).

But the Iromen nearly didn’t get the game to the extra period.

Sara Felder put GCC (15-2-0) ahead in the 63rd minute with a left-footed finish after being played down the left wing by Tatum Gretz.

Steel Valley then thought it had a tying goal six minutes later, but Gibbs’ finish was ruled offside to much disagreement from the Ironmen. The match officials then stopped the match for about five minutes to have a Steel Valley fan removed, and the break seemed to be a turning point for an Ironmen team with a short bench.

“That was a bad call,” Abraham said. “But a lot of teams would have folded there. They’re just different, and their work that they put into practice every day is never less than 100 percent.”

Steel Valley came back from the break energized, and with less than five minutes to go, Gibbs put the game level with a close-range header to finish a Kelsey Salopek free kick from the right wing, sending the game to overtime.

“I’m just floating on a cloud now. It’s just incredible,” Abraham said. “I didn’t even know how we were going to get through that overtime with 14, 13 girls total. They looked exhausted, but they dug down and got it done.”

The Centurions, who also advance to the PIAA tournament next week, nearly came home with another championship playing without coach Olivia Kruger, who went into labor the morning of the game.

“Honestly, I think it was just luck at this point (in overtime),” GCC assistant coach Hope Creamer said. “Both teams gave everything they got, and it was a really close matchup. … We’ll remember how this feels. It’s not a good feeling. We want to go on, and we want to keep playing. We have a lot of seniors who don’t want to be done yet.”

Matt Grubba is a contributing writer.

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