Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer ready for run at WPIAL, PIAA titles

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Sunday, August 18, 2019 | 7:54 PM


Greensburg Central Catholic had so much fun going to the WPIAL Class A championship game and PIAA semifinals last season the Centurions want to do it all over again.

Only this time, they want to prolong the ending and take it a step farther.

“If anything, expectations are higher than last year,” said senior midfielder Nate Ward, a returning All-WPIAL player. “This year, we want to win it all.”

Finishing a win shy of a WPIAL title and, later, a trip to Hershey for the PIAA finals resonates with GCC’s coaches and players.

“All of us have that bitter taste in our mouths,” fourth-year coach Tyler Solis said. “But it gives us something to work towards.”

Eight starters return from a team that finished 19-3 and lost to Avonworth in the WPIAL final and state semis by scores of 3-2 (penalty kicks) and 1-0, respectively.

GCC won the Section 2-A title and takes a 14-game section winning streak into this season.

Four key seniors are: Ward, a fourth-year starter; third-year goalkeeper Patrick Brewer; Tom Salley and Ethan Boyle.

Replacing 35-goal scorer Luke Mort, now at Pitt, is a large chore, but GCC appears to have more firepower waiting in the wings.

Mort, who tallied a school-record 125 career goals, missed time in the playoffs with a leg injury, leaving the Centurions with a case of the what-ifs.

Ward had 25 goals and 13 assists and will be the obvious go-to scorer. But he expects to have help — a lot of it, by the sound of things.

“I think you can call this an experienced team and a young team,” Ward said. “We don’t always have 22 kids out. I think we’ll be a different-looking team with a different face.”

By “face,” Ward is referring to the potential depth of the Centurions. A solid group of underclassmen should blend well with established players to allow the team to recharge quickly.

“We went to double OT in the WPIAL finals last year, and we didn’t have any more subs,” Ward said. “That was tough.”

Ward is drawing Division I attention from a number of programs, including Indiana, Dayton and Xavier.

“Nate is a great player and a great goal-scorer, and he will do big things for us,” Solis said. “But it’s not just about Nate … we need to do this as a team. We have a lot of guys who can contribute. Everybody can play a part.”

A back-four with plenty of big-game experience consists of senior Caleb Umbel, junior Seth Skrowronek, Boyle and Salley.

“Our defense should be so much stronger,” said Solis, who is 44-8 as coach. “We may not have as many blowouts as we’ve had in the past, but we have so much more experience. This (senior) group will have been with me for four years.”

Other key juniors are forwards Ricco Cicarelli and Dylan Sebek. Sophomore Mason Fabean should contribute, and sophomore Max House has shown promise as a goalkeeper.

Solis said House could push Brewer for the starting job in net.

The aforementioned freshmen crop has some scoring potential with Carlo Denis flashing some attacking ability during camp. Max Szekley is another ninth-grader to watch.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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