Greensburg Central Catholic girls have shot at playoff revenge

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Sunday, November 13, 2022 | 5:30 PM


Another day, another rematch for Greensburg Central Catholic in the state soccer playoffs.

After taking down section opponent Springdale, 3-1, in Saturday’s PIAA quarterfinals, GCC (15-5) will get another shot at WPIAL champion Freedom (19-4) in the Class A semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Gateway’s Pete Antimarino Stadium in Monroeville.

Freedom edged GCC in the WPIAL semifinals, 4-3, in overtime. It was the teams’ fifth postseason meeting in four years. The sixth could be a classic as GCC looks for a third straight appearance in the state final and Freedom tries to double down on its WPIAL title.

GCC sneaked by Freedom in last year’s state quarterfinals 1-0 at West Allegheny.

The winner goes to the state championship 10 a.m. Friday at Cumberland Valley — a new site with the finals no longer being played in Hershey.

The drive to get another shot at state gold fuels the Centurions, who won a play-in game to qualify for the state playoffs.

“They’re hungry for it,” GCC coach Kara Batey said. “When you get a taste and experience it, you want it as much as you can.”

Sophomore Riley Kerr had two goals, and senior Sara Felder added one in GCC’s win over Springdale, a team that had beaten the Centurions twice this season.

Now, Freedom stands in the way of more soccer.

“We lost in OT to them so it’s not like we can’t beat them,” Kerr said. “We have taken advantage of our opportunities so far. We wish (the finals) were still in Hershey. We had so much fun there.”

GCC has won four of the five postseason meetings with the Bulldogs.

Felder, a Youngstown State commit with more than 100 career goals, said the Centurions’ playoff push is rooted in simplicity.

“I think it’s the love for each other and the game that keeps driving us forward,” she said. “We are taking one game at a time. We are excited to play Freedom again because they are a very good team.”

GCC came back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits against Freedom last time.

Felder had two highlight-reel goals, including a 30-yard rip upper 90 to tie it 2-2.

Sophomore Sophia Fischer tied it 3-3 with about 16 minutes to play.

Freedom standout Shaye Bailey, though, got loose and accepted a through ball before netting the winner with 1:54 to play in overtime.

“We need to do a better job with corners,” Batey said. “The girls’ job is to get the ball to our forwards at the end line, and they can slot into the box or get us a corner. That is how we need to play.”

The GCC defense was strong in the second half against Springdale. It likely will need to continue Tuesday to extend the season.

“(Sophomore) Addi Vacanti and I are ready for the rematch,” GCC sophomore defender Jillian Botti said, referring to her fellow center back. “We’ve done our homework and are ready for the challenge.”

The two other members of the back line for GCC are sophomore Victoria Walters and junior Antonia Stickle.

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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