Greensburg Central Catholic girls top Springdale, reach PIAA semis for 4th straight year

Saturday, November 12, 2022 | 3:40 PM

An early deficit might dampen a team’s spirits in the state soccer playoffs. It incentivized Greensburg Central Catholic on Saturday against rival Springdale.

The Centurions’ play picked up. Scoring opportunities opened. And they chased down their reward: a fourth consecutive trip to the semifinals.

Sophomore Riley Kerr scored two goals, and senior Sara Felder added another as GCC pushed past the Dynamos, 3-1, in a PIAA Class A quarterfinal in the rain at Norwin Knights Stadium.

GCC (15-5) improved to 10-0 in playoff games at Norwin since 2014. First-year coach Kara Batey is a Norwin alum and had family and friends at the game.

The Centurions advance to play WPIAL champion Freedom (19-4) on Tuesday at a time and site to be announced, with the winner advancing to next Friday’s 10 a.m. final at Cumberland Valley.

Freedom edged Karns City, 4-3, in overtime. The Bulldogs beat GCC in overtime by the same score in the WPIAL semifinals.

All of the scoring for Springdale and GCC happened in the first half.

“Something we have been talking a lot about lately is how to respond to giving up a goal,” Batey said. “We got our intensity up after they scored first. I like how we responded.”

Springdale (17-5), the WPIAL runner-up, had beaten GCC twice in section play, both by 3-2 scores.

After the Dynamos put an early tally on the board in the 10th minute — junior Ashley Ross connected off a touch pass from sophomore Briana Ross from 25 yards — GCC scored the next three to avenge the previous defeats and move on.

“Springdale has a very strong midfield,” Batey said. “Our tactic was to (play away) from the midfield, play to our advantage and feed balls out to the width.”

With Kerr and Felder out wide, scoring opportunities blossomed.

Kerr took a well-placed through ball from junior Alexia Graham and scored in the 16th minute to tie it 1-1.

“When they scored, we looked at each other and said, ‘We got this,’ ” said Kerr, who has a team-leading 38 goals. “Let’s not let this bring us down. They were staying back low, and we saw the (opportunity) for some open looks.”

At 12:39, GCC struck again to go ahead. Kerr took possession, dribbled past a defender and skipped a shot past senior keeper Caty Stec, who came out to challenge.

It was quickly 3-1 at 11:09 after Felder converted on a similar run-up for her 35th goal.

“They have two really good players, and they’re just so fast,” Dynamos coach Marc Bentley said. “After we scored, we were a little flat. We made some adjustments and were the better team the second half, but we couldn’t get anything in the net.”

Batey thought her team’s defense picked up as the game went on. The Centurions held senior 26-goal scorer Grace Gent off the scoreboard — a tall task for any team.

“We held them to two shots at halftime,” she said. “Our girls played hard and wanted this win.”

Said Bentley: “The center back (sophomore Jillian Botti) is legit.”

Springdale was seeking its first state semifinal appearance since 2011.

“I am proud of the girls and proud of our season,” Bentley said. “We made the (WPIAL) finals. I have no complaints.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at

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