GCC soccer teams get top seeds but no home-field advantage

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 | 7:42 PM

Home-field advantage could play a big part in this year’s WPIAL soccer playoffs.

Higher-seeded teams get home games through the semifinals because the WPIAL tried to avoid multiple teams traveling to the same site — a product of covid-19 awareness.

Greensburg Central Catholic landed No. 1 seeds in the WPIAL Class A boys and girls soccer playoffs, but neither will get to play at home in the postseason.

The WPIAL wants all soccer playoff games to be played on turf fields. GCC has natural grass, so the teams will have to play on the road.

That’s nothing new to the programs, who are used to playing at neutral sites in the postseason. But they still won’t get the comfort of not having to travel like most of the other playoff teams will in 2020.

GCC athletic director Dan Mahoney said the decision was fully up to the WPIAL.

The GCC boys (11-1), the defending WPIAL champions, play Aquinas Academy (5-8) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Elizabeth Forward.

“There is nothing we can do about it,” GCC boys coach Tyler Solis said. “The boys will be expected to perform no matter what pitch we’re on. I’m sure our supporters will make a trip out to see us play.”

GCC’s boys were traveling Wednesday to South Pointe to practice on turf.

The Centurions girls (12-0), the district runners-up last season, open against Riverside (5-8) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Norwin.

“It can be a little bit of a bummer not playing at home,” GCC girls coach Olivia Kruger said. “But at the same time, I think it gives us the opportunity to not get too comfortable. The girls like playing on turf.”

Another development to come out of Wednesday’s playoff pairings involved the Latrobe boys, who made the Class 4A playoffs but initially were not included because the Wildcats are sidelined due to possible covid-19 exposure.

Latrobe alerted the WPIAL that their shutdown would end by Tuesday, and the league penciled them in for Tuesday night at Upper St. Clair, at which time the Wildcats will be done with their 14-day quarantine.

Connellsville was told it would be Latrobe’s replacement and was placed in the bracket. The WPIAL had to tell the Falcons they were not in after all when Latrobe was brought back into the mix.

“The boys are ecstatic to be playing again,” Latrobe coach Tom Kennedy said. “We have a whole lot of ammunition to fire them up. We tied Norwin to clinch a spot, then had the quarantine, which wouldn’t let us finish the season. To get a second chance is great for these kids. It’s a real Rocky story.”

Two-time defending Class 3A boys champion Franklin Regional (13-2) is seeded second and will host Knoch (7-8) at noon Saturday. The Panthers made the PIAA semifinals the last two years. Undefeated Mars got the top seed in boys 3A.

Both Norwin teams have first-round byes in Class 4A.

The boys (10-0-2) are the No. 3 seed and the girls (9-2-1) are No. 4.

Franklin Regional’s girls (10-1-1) earned a No. 5 seed in Class 3A and will take host No. 12 South Fayette (7-7) at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

The Southmoreland girls (11-1) are No. 4 in Class 2A and host Ambridge (4-5-1) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

In Class 2A, Mt. Pleasant and Burrell will meet in the boys and girls first round. Both are 6 vs. 11 games.

The boys play at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Mt. Pleasant. Because of construction at Burrell’s stadium, the girls game will also be played at Mt. Pleasant at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Ligonier Valley’s girls made the playoffs in their first year in the WPIAL. Apollo-Ridge finished ahead of Ligonier Valley but was not eligible for the Class A playoffs, which allowed the Rams to get in. They play No. 2 Steel Valley at 1 p.m. Saturday at Campbell Field in Munhall.

The other top seeds in the boys’ tournaments are Peters Township (Class 4A) and Shady Side Academy (2A). Additional girls No. 1 seeds are Peters Township (4A), Mars (3A) and South Park (2A).

The WPIAL finals will be Nov. 5 and Nov. 7 at times and sites to be announced.

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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