Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer scorches Charleroi to sit atop section

Thursday, September 15, 2022 | 11:37 PM

Greensburg Central Catholic now stands alone atop the Section 2-A standings.

The Centurions raced to an early three-goal lead and managed to pull away from visiting Charleroi in the second half for a 7-3 victory in a section showdown between the top two teams Thursday night.

“We were expecting to have one of our tougher games in section play,” GCC coach Rob Fabean said. “I got to see them play the other night for the first time, so I knew some things we could do to probably give us an advantage in the game. We executed those pretty well to start and then let off the gas a little bit. Our boys responded well in the second half, though.”

Carlo Denis netted a hat trick to lead the Centurions (6-1, 4-0). Jackson Vacanti, Kyler Miller, Jake Gretz and James Brewer added a goal apiece.

Vacanti scored the game’s first goal less than seven minutes in as he found his way around a defender before firing a shot with his left foot that snuck past Charleroi goalkeeper Nate Mazon for a 1-0 lead.

Less than four minutes later, Miller found the back of the net following a nice through ball from Denis. The lead swelled to 3-0 around the 19-minute mark when Gretz beat a diving Mazon to his right.

“Our plan all season long is to get a goal in the first five minutes of any game we play,” Fabean said. “We like to get the other team on their back foot and play high-pressure soccer. It generates a lot of scoring chances for us.”

Charleroi (7-1, 4-1) didn’t go away without a fight.

Joel Chambers put the Cougars on the board as he found the back of the net on a free kick with 14:51 on the clock. Just over seven minutes later, Arlo McIntyre delivered a deep pass to Landon Barcus, who scored from the left side of the box to cut the GCC deficit to 3-2.

GCC extended its lead to 4-2 heading into halftime on Denis’ first goal of the night, but Charleroi battled back again to make it a one-goal game on a goal by Matthew Burkholder in the opening 10 minutes of the second stanza.

“They just outhustled us to each ball,” Charleroi head coach Jon Ducoli said. “That was the first time that we’ve been on our heels this season, but the boys fought back and didn’t give up.”

Brewer scored his goal with 30:44 remaining in the game as he followed up a shot from Miller and buried a rebound chance to make it 5-3. Denis scored the final two goals of the night in the last 13 minutes of the game.

Charleroi played without Mazon in the second half after a first-half collision with Denis. Mazon briefly exited the game after the play before returning for the remainder of the first half. He did not play in the second half.

“He got hit pretty hard, so we thought it was best to err on the side of caution because at the end of the day, this is just a game,” Ducoli said. “These kids have the rest of their lives to live.”

GCC goalkeeper Isaac House made eight saves.

The Centurions return to action at California on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Charleroi will have to wait to host the Trojans on Sept. 27.

“Our first thing we want to do is look back, talk and dissect this game,” Ducoli said. “This was definitely a wake-up call, and at least it’s early in the season so we can fix what needs to be fixed. Hopefully we can come back for redemption when they come to us (on Oct. 11).”

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