GCC boys soccer barely brushes off Rockwood in PIAA Class A quarterfinals

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Saturday, November 14, 2020 | 8:10 PM


As he answered questions in a postgame interview, Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer coach Tyler Solis was innocently interrupted by his pint-sized son, Bastian.

“Did we win daddy?” the big-eyed 4-year-old asked.

“Yes, we did, buddy,” dad replied.

“Where’s the trophy?” Bastian added, before giggling and running off.

The trophy is waiting in Hershey for the PIAA champion, and GCC moved a step closer to playing for it with a 3-2 victory over Rockwood on Saturday afternoon in a physical Class A state quarterfinal at Norwin.

GCC (16-1) will play Brockway (16-2) in the semifinals Tuesday at a time and site to be announced. The game could be played at Norwin. The Class A title game is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium.

Rockwood, which played a physical style and tried to slow the Centurions’ attackers, lost its first game of the season and finished 19-1.

“I watched some of their last game, and one of the first things I noticed was senior, senior, senior, senior … ” Solis said. “They have like eight seniors. We have four. Any time there’s that much (leadership and experience), it’s going to be a tough game.”

The teams were separated by one goal, but they might have tied in brush burns.

A game slowed constantly by fouls and free kicks wasn’t decided until the 74th minute when sophomore Carlo Denis detached from the pack and scored his second goal of the day on a breakaway to make it 3-2.

It was his 34th goal of the season, and it allowed GCC, fresh off back-to-back WPIAL titles, to return to the state semis for the third straight year.

Good things happen when the quick-footed Denis charges wide down the sideline.

“Carlo played a heck of a game today,” Solis said. “He just keeps moving. He has endless desire to take players on. They really tried to take him out defensively, and he overcame that.”

GCC went ahead 2-1 in the 48th minute on a goal by junior Mason Fabean, who headed home a well-placed, 31-yard free kick by senior forward Ricco Ciccarelli for his 24th score of the year.

“We had to play to our strengths,” said Fabean, who had ice packs on both ankles after the game. “They played us tough. They had some big kids.”

Rockwood, which came in with 11 shutouts, continued to possess the ball and look for opportunities. The Rockets tied it when senior Rodrigo Renteria, who is from Mexico, scored on a header off a corner kick from junior Jack Pletcher in the 67th minute.

Set plays have been good to the Rockets this season. They used one to edge McConnellsburg, 3-2, in the first round in overtime.

“(Denis) is a tremendous player, and they have a lot of talent on their team,” Rockwood coach Dan Weaver said. “But so do we. We like to possess the ball and play physical, and that’s what we did today. Our kids never backed down.”

Three of GCC’s last four games have been decided by one goal. The Centurions outshot the Rockets, 16-12.

The Rockets scored first when senior Tycho Van der Meer, out of The Netherlands, took off on a breakaway and his shot deflected off of GCC junior goalkeeper Max House. Waiting was sophomore Will Letuch, who kicked in the rebound in the 29th minute.

GCC tied it in a similar fashion. Fabean clanked a shot off the cross bar and looked on as Denis was there to ping in the carom past junior keeper Caron Modrak to make it 1-1 by the half.

Rockwood brought dozens of fans, and plenty of noise to help create a playoff atmosphere that one would not expect to find during covid-19 times.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” Weaver said. “We had a great season.”

House and Modrak each made nine saves.

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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