Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer shakes off slow start, advances in playoffs
Saturday, October 19, 2019 | 8:20 PM
For Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer coach Tyler Solis, Saturday’s first-round playoff game had several elements that his team needed to get through.
One was several freshmen getting their first opportunity to play playoff soccer. Another was a general anxiousness among the team to start the game, and the third was a Mohawk team that came ready to play.
It all led to an intense game that saw the Centurions fall behind early, but eventually settle down and take control with the help of standout senior Nate Ward.
Ward had a pair of goals in the second half to help the second-seeded Centurions earn a 4-2 win and stave off a tough challenge from No. 15 Mohawk on Saturday afternoon at Butler’s Art Bernardi Stadium.
“With our first game in the playoffs you have that 15 minutes where you’re intense, but a little bit nervous and trying to get your footing and during that time they got a goal on us,” Solis said. “I think that shook us, but I’m proud of the way the boys came back not once, but twice after giving up goals.
“They continued to believe in our system of moving the ball and breaking teams down. It’s very difficult to play with us for 80 minutes.”
Greensburg Central Catholic (12-3-1) advanced to play No. 7 Avonworth (15-3-0) on Wednesday in a rematch of last year’s championship game that Avonworth won. The Antelopes were 4-3 winners over OLSH on Saturday.
Ward, an Indiana recruit, scored on a great individual effort, slicing through the Mohawk defense before depositing a shot into the net to give the Centurions a 2-1 lead early in the second half. He provided an insurance marker on a penalty kick in the 66th minute that made it 4-2.
A minute after Ward’s first goal, Mohawk’s Dylan Lloyd scored a goal on a header that tied the game at 2-2, but three minutes later Mason Fabean responded by depositing a shot in the bottom left corner of the net to give Greensburg Central Catholic a 3-2 lead.
Ward was happy to contribute offensively, but said he and the team need a better start in their next game. He also praised the backline for their play.
“We got a little bit of a slow start in the midfield,” Ward said. “I was holding back a little too much and then coach moved me up a little bit. Seth (Skowronek) and the defense did a really good job at the end of the first half and in the second half. I’m proud of them.”
Mohawk (7-10-1), in the playoffs for the second time in program history, got its first postseason goal in the fifth minute when John Colella connected on a header off a corner from Jacob Owoc, which made the score 1-0.
That lead held for 20 minutes until the Centurions tied the score on a corner by Jacob Gretz that was headed into the net by Skowronek.
“As a team I think we learned a lesson here,” Solis said. “As soon as the ref blows the whistle, we have to be ready to play. Maybe a little better team gives us even more problems. We have to learn from it and make sure we’re ready to go.”
For Mohawk, Saturday’s result was a building block for a program that will graduate a dozen seniors and seven starters.
“It was exciting to get that first goal and to give them a run,” Mohawk coach Micah Bell said. “Having a lead for 20 minutes is something you can’t be mad about. It went as well as we could’ve hoped. I wish things could’ve gone a little differently, but I think us playing as hard as we did today showed that we were probably deserving of a seed higher than 15 if the regular season had gone the way we wanted it to go.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer
More High School Soccer Boys• Plum’s Aldi Flowers chasing professional dream with FC Cincinnati development academy
• What to watch for in WPIAL sports on Sept. 28, 2023: Deer Lakes, Shady Side Academy renew rivalry
• A-K Valley boys soccer notebook: Riverview coach reaches milestone
• Latrobe boys soccer team turning into overnight success
• Westmoreland County boys soccer notebook: Franklin Regional’s Bayne puts best foot forward in 2 sports