Greensburg Central Catholic girls clip No. 1 Freedom in OT to reach WPIAL final

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Monday, October 28, 2019 | 9:42 PM


Jessica Nemeth said the final play seemed like it was in slow motion.

“I ran in to get the cross first, and I had this sense of clarity,” the Greensburg Central Catholic junior midfielder said. “I one-touched it and it went in and we’re going to the championship.

“It’s the best feeling I have ever had in my life.”

Nemeth lightly bumped in a redirect from her sister, senior Samantha Nemeth, for a golden goal as No. 5 seed GCC clipped No. 1 and defending WPIAL champion Freedom, 4-3, in overtime in a back-and-forth Class A girls soccer semifinal on Monday night at North Allegheny.

GCC (14-3) advances to play No. 3 Shady Side Academy (16-1) in the championship at 4 p.m. Friday at Highmark Stadium.

Jess and Sam Nemeth each had a goal and an assist in the win.

“It feels so good because we did this as a team,” Sam Nemeth said. “I saw my sister in front and tried to get her the ball. She has probably assisted a third of my goals this year.”

The loss was Freedom’s first of the season. The high-scoring Bulldogs (20-1) will play in the WPIAL third-place game.

Freedom, which was seeking its third title in four years, was the PIAA runner-up last season.

“We have been wanting to play (Freedom) since last year,” GCC coach Ashley Davis said. “They are the WPIAL champs, and we wanted to play the best. It’s great for our girls and coach Bri (Guy) to make it to the finals.”

Davis was on maternity leave for most of the season, and Guy took over the coaching duties. Davis returned a few weeks ago.

GCC, making its fifth straight appearance in the semifinals — in its 21st consecutive playoff trip — lost a pair of one-goal leads before finally dispatching Freedom, which rallied to tie it 1-1 and 3-3 on the way to forcing overtime.

“Freedom can put it in from anywhere,” Davis said. “We couldn’t foul at the 50 with their players.”

Freedom coach Colin Williams said GCC presented issues with its speed.

“That was the toughest game we’ve had all season,” he said. “They are probably the fastest team we have played. Give credit to GCC. They played well and got the last goal.”

Offense picked up drastically after halftime as the teams traded scores.

Freedom tied it 1-1 with 33 minutes left when junior Jessica Scheel scored off a corner kick from sophomore Renae Mohrbacher, who came in with 61 goals.

Less than five minutes later, senior Myah Hrinko ripped a free kick from 57 yards out and the ball sailed over the head of GCC sophomore keeper Lyndsey Szekely to make it 2-1.

Another sister-to-sister combo tied it for GCC. Freshman Sara Felder showed with some nifty handles and dished off to junior Sam Felder, who scored from just inside the 10 for the equalizer with 15:45 left.

Sam Nemeth got behind the Bulldogs defense and scored on a breakaway to give GCC a 3-2 edge with 13:23 remaining.

Freedom kept attacking and as a result, tied it again. Freshman Jersee Melvin tapped in a goal — off another towering delivery from Hrinko and it was 3-3 with 9:20 to go.

“We had to step it up,” Williams said. “We had to change our mechanism in the second half.”

GCC struck first — and early — as the Centurions drew a penalty kick off a corner kick. It appeared senior defender Ashley McWilliams scored off the set piece but there was a whistle. That sent tophomore Tatum Gretz to the penalty spot and she calmly buried the chance for a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute.

The slim lead stood up until halftime.

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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