Defense perks up for Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer in state playoffs

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020 | 3:40 PM


Max House hopes this season is good to the last drop.

The Greensburg Central Catholic junior goalkeeper, and the defense that plays in front of him, are ready for one last challenge in a season of many, as District 1 champion Faith Christian (15-1) awaits the Centurions (17-1) in the PIAA Class A championship at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Hershey.

GCC will play for its first state title. If it’s another tight finish, the Centurions won’t be taken off guard.

“We have chemistry together,” House said. “The defenders have trust in me where they can drop balls back to me, and I can kick it away when they’re under pressure. We have gotten better at doing that.”

Trust is the operative word in that statement. It is the tie that binds GCC, which blossomed into a serious contender, coach Tyler Solis said, after a 3-0 loss to section and playoff rival Winchester Thurston in early October.

“No more individuals wanting to do things for themselves,” the coach said. “There was a change.”

The Centurions are 11-0 since and have been clutch. They’ve won four of their six playoff games by one goal, including three one-goal finishes in a row: 3-2 vs. Winchester Thurston, 3-2 vs. Rockwood and 2-1 vs. Brockway.

Amazingly, none of those games went to overtime.

“That (Winchester Thurston) loss was like a sucker punch,” Solis said. “But I think it woke us up. We have gotten so much better since that game in so many ways.”

The defense and House, in particular, must have whiffed the smelling salts. Look at them go now.

“We don’t get much credit back there,” said senior defender Seth Skowronek, a surprise selection as the WPIAL Class A Player of the Year. “We’re still a defensive team. Our guys know we can hold it down. I have been wanting to play for a state title since my freshman year. It’s great to see it finally happen.”

Junior Mason Fabean, who has initiated a number of offensive attacks this season, appreciates defense because he plays it full-time in club soccer. It could be what he plays in college.

But Fabean is a midfielder for GCC.

“Our defensive guys are awesome,” he said. “(Sophomore) Max Szekeley is unbelievable back there. Seth deserves player of the year. House has played great all season.”

Holding those one-goal leads together has not been easy. But sophomore Carlo Denis would not have been able to score go-ahead goals late in the last two state playoff wins had the defense and House not repelled opposing attacks.

“In the time I have been here, we haven’t really had that balance,” Solis said. “Max has made so many great saves. It’s so nice to have a goalkeeper like him.”

Denis has 36 goals and has scored twice in back-to-back games. He has seven of GCC’s 18 goals in the playoffs.

Denis scored with about three minutes left to down District 5 champion Rockwood and found the net on a rebound with seven minutes to play against District 10 champ Brockway.

He also has scored early. His goal in the WPIAL championship against Winchester Thurston was 50 seconds in, and he opened the scoring against Brockway just two minutes into the state semifinal.

Solis hopes GCC maintains its aggressive approach and stays sharp for one last match.

“It’s one game,” Solis said. “Our mentality is, ‘I am going to work for you.’ Hopefully, we can keep it going for one more game.”

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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