Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer playing like ‘legitimate’ contender

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Wednesday, October 7, 2020 | 5:01 PM


One mark of a title-contending team is how it responds to playing from behind. How it deals with adversity.

Defending WPIAL Class A boys soccer champion Greensburg Central Catholic started the week ranked No. 1 again and looks primed for a repeat championship. And while the Centurions are used to building big leads, they have shown they also are built to come back.

“I think as a team we benefit a lot from having experience playing and winning in big games,” GCC coach Tyler Solis said. “We have come back to win (two recent games). As a coach, you hate going down early, but it shows a lot of character from a team when they are able to regroup and score the next three goals, which we did against Winchester and Trinitiy Christian. I’m excited to see the boys moving the ball around and getting back to our identity.”

Winchester Thurston, ranked No. 2 when it traveled to GCC on Sept. 19, struck first, but the Centurions responded with firepower: three straight goals on the way to a 3-2 victory.

A possible WPIAL finals preview did not disappoint. The teams met four times last season, and every game was decided by one goal.

The Section 2-A foes played again earlier this week at Winchester Thurston in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh, and the Bears returned the favor, only this time more decidedly. GCC could not get the ball into the net and suffered a rare 3-0 loss.

The Centurions had not been shut out in a regular-season game since 2015.

GCC beat the Bears in the WPIAL final (1-0) last year but lost to them in the PIAA semifinals (2-1).

“We have many guys that can score on this team, and when we play unselfishly, we play pretty good soccer and usually have our opponents on their back foot,” GCC junior midfielder Mason Fabean said. “Winchester Thurston is a good team, and they played us very tough.”

GCC (7-1) started 6-0 and hasn’t shown any signs of a void left by the graduaton of all-everything midfielder Nate Ward, who moved on to play at Indiana University.

Ward was fantastic and could will his teammates to victories with his energy and ability. But his supporting cast from last season is a year more mature, and the future looks bright for the program.

Shifty sophomore forward Carlo Denis had 14 goals and Fabean added eight through the first half-dozen games. Both were Tribune-Review all-stars last season.

GCC has outscored the opposition, 47-9.

“Last year, we had a good team, but I think this year, we have a very good team,” Fabean said. “We have a lot of sophomores who can really play, and with our leadership from myself and our upperclassmen, I just feel that our team is well-equipped and has legitimate shot at winning the WPIAL and PIAA championship.

“Our defenders have been very good in the back, and they are really the guys who start our attack.”

A former Robert Morris player, Solis always talks about his team embracing challenges. Getting settled after the season started late because of covid-19 delays has been a key for a lot of teams, and GCC is a prime example of a team that merged into the fast lane.

“I know it’s still early on, but its nice knowing we are in control and have everything to play for,” Solis said.

Trinity Christian and Serra Catholic also play in Section 2 and offer better competition in a top-heavy arrangement of teams. GCC defeated Trinity Christian, 3-1.

GCC hopes to make a bid for the top seed.

It has a nonsection game scheduled against The Kiski School before the WPIAL playoffs. Teams have been cramming section games to get finished by the WPIAL deadline of Oct. 20.

“I have built a great relationship with Kiski Prep and enjoy playing a non-WPIAL game with them every fall,” Solis said. “It’s one of the team’s favorite games of the year and one of the most challenging.”

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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