GCC girls soccer not hitting panic button, remain No. 1 in Class A

Tuesday, September 6, 2022 | 8:25 PM

Few coaches will argue it is better to lose the first game of the season than the last one.

For Greensburg Central Catholic, that concept rings true.

Top-ranked GCC, the Class A runner-up last season in the WPIAL and PIAA, kicked off 2022 with a grueling 3-2 loss to then-No. 4 Springdale in overtime at home.

The defeat, while disappointing at first, did not set off alarm bells.

Springdale is a good team, and GCC is learning to play for a new coach, a coach who is thinking big picture and analyzing every corner of her roster to keep the Centurions among the elite.

“It allowed us to see our weaknesses early,” coach Kara Batey said. “You can learn a lot from a loss. It may have been exactly what we needed.”

GCC (1-2) rebounded with a 3-2 win over Wallenpaupack of District 2 in the Bellefonte Red Raider Classic, the game serving up a state-playoff feel.

“We really played well in that game,” Batey said. “We were able to possess the ball in a full game and really work together. That was one of the better team games I have seen a team play.”

GCC had an hour break after the Wallenpaupack game to get ready for Hollidaysburg in the same tournament.

GCC lost that game 3-0.

“It wasn’t about winning or losing (that game),” Batey said. “It was about getting our girls some rest and working in our rotation a little more.

“We were able to work on some other concepts of the game, not just running up and down the field and kicking the ball in the net.”

Senior forward Sara Felder said the Springdale loss also was more beneficial than hurtful.

“I am glad it happened in the beginning of the season,” Felder said. “This team is very young, and I am the only fourth-year player. Over half our starting lineup is underclassmen. The emphasis on conditioning and recovery has helped our endurance while playing. It has also helped prevent injuries in preseason and the beginning of the season.”

Senior midfielder/center back Ashley Winnor said the Springdale loss led to some strategy changes, as well.

“Coach Kara made several adjustments in the lineup and formation that played more to our strengths,” Winnor said. “These changes had a significant impact on the quality of our play this past weekend. Both of these experiences have taught us that we’re stronger when we play together.”

Batey is big on conditioning and recovery time that comes with it, and the schedule offers her some extra time for both.

GCC’s last game was Saturday, but it won’t play against until next Monday at Seton LaSalle.

The eight-day stretch will be used to build on what was learned in the first three games — a physical and mental tune-up.

“Taking on a loss doesn’t just fall first on the players,” Batey said. “We have opened communication. The loss started me on some self-reflection, and the the girls did the same. They used the loss to focus on mental health, as well.

“We will also watch some film.”

Batey also is a believer in leadership by the players. She named Felder, Winnor and another senior, Alexia Graham, tri-captains, with a fourth, rotating captain chosen periodically as a sort of side competition. Sophomore Addison Vacanti has earned the spot of late.

Felder, sophomore Riley Kerr and junior Ella Machusko have provided offensive highlights fo far. Felder, a Youngstown State commit, has 80 career goals and 49 assists.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.


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