Greensburg Central Catholic duo made mark as students, winners

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Friday, May 8, 2020 | 3:34 PM


Editor’s note: This is the sixth in an 18-part series profiling nominees for the Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete Excellence Awards.

Nate Ward and Samantha Nemeth have a lot in common.

Both are outstanding soccer players with college careers in their best sport awaiting them.

Both also have a flair for the dramatic on the soccer field and on the basketball court, as evidenced by winning goals and baskets during their senior seasons.

In addition, both excel in the classroom. That makes the pair from Greensburg Central Catholic prime candidates for the Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete Excellence Awards hosted by Judge John J. Driscoll.

“Sammy and I do have a lot in common, and we are friends,” Ward said. “We aren’t that close, but I think that’s just because we both share a lot of these qualities with many of our classmates.”

Ward, the Tribune-Review Westmoreland Boys Soccer Player of the Year, led GCC to a WPIAL Class A championship. He scored 31 goals as a senior, helping him earn a scholarship to Indiana. Ward also played in a national all-star game.

Nemeth was a clutch 29-goal scorer for the GCC girls, who finished as WPIAL runners-up last fall. She is headed to IUP.

GCC’s boys and girls teams finished a game away from the PIAA soccer finals in Hershey.

Perhaps Ward and Nemeth were just too busy to sit down and talk about their similarities.

“We are very busy student-athletes, so we don’t really take time to dwell over anything,” Nemeth said. “We both are just expected to get the job done and excel in whatever sport we’re doing at the time.”

That’s what they did.

Ward, a rare four-sport athlete, also played football and basketball and was set to run track this spring before the covid-19 pandemic shut down schools.

Nemeth also played basketball and was a senior leader this season for the Centurions. She also was on the track and field team for two years.

Ward, who kicked and played wide receiver in football, said there is no secret to balancing smarts and sports.

“Attending a school like Central opens the doors to make the most of whatever you put your mind to,” he said. “The competition between classmates and teammates pushes everyone to better themselves, whether it’s in the classroom or playing a sport.

“You get out what you put in. If you don’t put in the work when no one’s looking, then you won’t achieve the goals that you want to achieve.”

Dedication and balance, behind the scenes as Ward noted, are keys to success, Nemeth said.

“You have to be willing to put in the time and effort when everyone isn’t watching to stand out when they are,” she said. “Plus when you manage your time wisely, you’re able to be successful at both.”

On a harmless-looking mid-January night, Ward and Nemeth became heroes in basketball as each made a winning basket to down Clairton in a girls-boys doubleheader. Ward launched in a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer in overtime, and Nemeth earlier in the evening made a layup in the final seconds of regulation.

Still, the fondest memories for these two have to come from soccer.

“My favorite memory is winning the WPIAL championship with my boys,” Ward said. “The whole team knew what we wanted to achieve since preseason, and we made it happen. I made some memories I’m very grateful for with that team.”

For Nemeth, “Nothing could beat the rush and celebration of winning the WPIAL soccer semifinal in the first minute of overtime.”

Nemeth assisted her sister Jess for a golden goal as GCC edged Freedom.

Samantha said she wants to be remembered “as a leader and someone who did everything they could to help the success and chemistry of the team. Plus the thrilling game-winners.”

The annual Driscoll banquet had been scheduled for April 27 at Ferrante’s Lakeview but was postponed. The committee is discussing possibly having the banquet during the summer.

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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