Greensburg CC girls soccer hopes to keep rolling toward state title game

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Sunday, November 15, 2020 | 3:01 PM


Greensburg Central Catholic is 17-0 and sits a victory away from the girls state soccer championship game in Hershey.

But first-year coach Olivia Kruger said her team still might have its best game ahead. Or, at least one of its best games.

Kruger looks for improvements each time GCC plays, a subtle critique that could end up leading to the team’s top overall performance yet.

Think of someone judging individual paintings, not the entire art gallery.

“(The quarterfinal win) was one of the best games,” she said. “It depends how you look at it. We might play our best game here or there but for different reasons.”

A talent-stacked team that can shift into 10-wheel drive on offense does not have many flaws, if any.

“That’s your state champion, right there,” West Branch coach Angie Fenush. “They’re loaded.”

GCC will take on District 10 champion Cambridge Springs (15-4-1) at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in a semifinal at Norwin with the winner advancing to Hershey on Friday for the PIAA Class A championship at 11 a.m.

The Centurions, in the semis for the seventh time since 2005, have used rapid-fire starts to generate big leads, attacking the net from all angles. They put up 27 shots against West Branch.

They have eight wins by six or more goals.

An outlier was the WPIAL championship, when Our Lady of the Sacred Heart played right with them before losing 3-2.

It was 1-1 before GCC scored twice and then repelled the Chargers’ late attempts to again hit the equalizer.

The test might have been just what GCC needed.

“OLSH gave us a run for our money,” Kruger said. “They really made us work harder. That motivated us to set the tone better and establish that this is our game.”

That is what GCC did in the PIAA quarterfinal, with junior Tatum Gretz firing two goals in the first six minutes and the offense continuing to blast shots at West Branch when the Warriors crept to within 2-1.

“We did what we wanted to do,” Kruger said. “We got into our groove right from the get-go.”

Jumping on teams early is one of GCC’s calling cards, and the Centurions hope the trend continues in the semis. They have not been to the state final since 2014. The team won Class A state titles in 2012 and ’13.

“It’s exciting and so motivational to win (in the quarterfinals),” said Gretz, a Villanova recruit. “We want to go the whole way. We’re pumped about it.”

The pieces are falling into place for GCC, which seems to have handled playoff pressure, blended its talent into a fair and lethal mix and taken full advantage of the new-look playoff system, a reflection of covid-19.

Shady Side Academy moving up to Class AA already eliminated one roadblock, but the fact GCC won’t have to revisit WPIAL opponents in the state bracket is huge.

It would be about time for a rematch with OLSH, but that can’t happen this year.

“We are focused on playing well together as a team,” senior Sam Felder said, “and taking each game one at a time to get us to the state title game.”

It has been quite a first year for Kruger, 27, who could be a WPIAL and PIAA champion in her debut season. Kruger is from the eastern side of the state. She played at Tulpehocken High School, a Class A school just outside of Reading, and collegiately at Milllersville, near Lancaster.

“It would be incredible to win both,” she said. “How many coaches come in and win a district title and can make a run at a state title? I have said it before, I am so lucky to have these girls. It’s about them. They are outstanding and a pleasure to coach.”

The GCC boys will play Brockway in the second game of a doubleheader at Norwin. The boys are 2-0 at Norwin this postseason, giving GCC a perfect 6-0 mark in North Huntingdon.

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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