Season-opening loss sharpens focus for Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer

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Sunday, September 19, 2021 | 5:09 PM


The first game of the season in any sport is important. But, just the same, it can seem quite meaningless.

Even when a No. 1-ranked team gets sideswiped right out of the gates?

The Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer team, fresh off back-to-back WPIAL Class A titles and PIAA runner-up finish, was stunned by Eden Christian, 4-3, to open 2021 in new coach Rob Fabean’s debut season.

An opening loss isn’t a back-breaker, but it can give a team an idea of what they need to improve on going forward. GCC is prime proof.

While GCC (4-1, 3-0) didn’t plummet in the rankings — it stayed No. 1, in fact — it used the loss to make every game that followed a more disciplined and pleasurable experience.

“I’d rather see that happen in a game that has no bearing on our season,” Fabean said of the nonsection loss. “We saw some things we need to fix and address. We’re not worried.”

For instance, GCC tested out a 3-5-2 formation, but Eden Christian doubled its efforts on defense to slow the high-powered Centurions, who have multiple scoring threats.

“They played a block of eight in the back,” Fabian said. “That didn’t give us much room to do anything.”

Moving back to a more fitting 4-3-3 set, GCC rebounded with wins over Derry (13-2) and Trinity Christian (2-1), the latter to open Section 2-A play, and then Serra Catholic (4-1) and St. Joseph (14-4).

“We lost in the state final last year, so our expectation is to get back there,” senior defender Ryan Appleby said. “We have the confidence that we can win states.”

As for the season-opening setback, Appleby said the team is moving on with a sharper focus, even though they won’t finish undefeated.

“We have that taste now,” he said. “We know what losing feels like. Maybe we needed that. It lit a fire under our butts.”

Through three games, senior Mason Fabean had four goals to lead GCC, including the winner against Trinity Christian. Junior Carlo Dennis and senior Ryan Reitler had three scores each, and junior Kyler Miller had two.

“We want to spread it around,” Rob Fabean said. “That makes it more difficult for teams to defend you.”

Reitler moved to left back, a move that benefited GCC immediately. Freshman Jackson Vacanti is playing opposite wing from Denis to add more scoring punch, with Mason Fabean, Miller and Jake Gretz in the middle and Max Szekeley at center back.

Tom Oldenburg is another back-line player, and Max House returns in goal.

Watch out for Ben Duong, another forward whom coach Fabean said shoots “lasers.”

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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