GCC girls soccer in great shape heading into state playoffs

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020 | 7:47 PM


When Olivia Kruger took over the girls soccer team at Greensburg Central Catholic, she wanted to “change the shape” of the Lady Centurions’ attack.

Stylistically, they went to a 4-5-1 set.

“A lot of things were already in place,” Kruger said. “I have been very lucky that way, and we have so much talent. I just wanted to change up the shape and work more out of the midfield.”

With that slight tweak also came the promise of more freedom for her attackers. And that has created a much more balanced offensive thrust for GCC (16-0), which won its seventh WPIAL title last week and will open the PIAA playoffs Saturday.

“We all have a lot of talent, but we know we need to work together and rely on more players,” senior midfielder/forward Sam Felder said.

GCC will take on District 6 champion West Branch (18-2) in the quarterfinals at noon Saturday at Norwin.

It will be part of a state playoff doubleheader with the GCC boys. The WPIAL-champion Centurions (15-1) will take on District 5 champ Rockwood (19-0) at 2 p.m.

The GCC girls, who edged past Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 3-2, in the WPIAL final, have movable parts in a potent scoring lineup.

Kruger allows forwards and midfielders to switch on the fly — call audibles, if you will — to make for a more productive attack.

“We have (sophomore) Sara (Felder), Sam and (senior) Hannah (Nelson) rotate in the midfield,” Kruger said. “We usually have Sam up top. But they can move around to take better advantage of their strengths. It has worked for us many times.”

Sam Felder had two goals, including the game-winner in the 66th minute, and junior Tatum Gretz also scored in the WPIAL title game.

Unlike past GCC teams, which relied heavily on individual scorers — Frannie Crouse and Bailey Cartwright come to mind — this team has more balance.

As Ashley Davis did previously at GCC, Kruger has tried to blend the hot and cold running talent and make sure the team has common goals.

“They advocate for their teammates,” Kruger said. “We rely on a team effort, and it really is never one player shining out. It’s never about one person.”

While the Felder sisters have accounted for 45 of the team’s 106 goals, there are a number of scoring options alongside them.

Gretz, Nelson, junior midfielder Bethany Winnor and senior midfielder Jessica Nemeth have found the net in the playoffs.

GCC has won six WPIAL titles since 2011 and will now go for its third PIAA championship.

The Centurions won Class A state titles in 2012 and ‘13. They were PIAA runners-up in Class AA in 2005 and ‘06.

“We have more trust and confidence in each other,” said Sara Felder, who has 25 goals. “We’re all working well together.”

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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