Shady Side Academy sneaks by GCC for 1st WPIAL girls soccer title since 2016

Friday, November 1, 2019 | 6:35 PM

The Shady Side Academy and Greensburg Central Catholic girls soccer teams split a pair of meetings in the regular season.

On Friday at Highmark Stadium, the Indians took home the tiebreaker as they defeated the Centurions, 2-1, to win their first WPIAL Class A Championship since 2016.

“It’s a hard battle against GCC, but coach (Mary Lynch) gave us a quote at the beginning of the game: ‘The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory,’” junior midfielder Melissa Riggins said. “That definitely expresses it. This is pretty sweet. They are our rivals and it’s always an aggressive game.”

The Section 1-A rivals battled throughout the first 20 minutes of the game, but as the clock ticked, the Indians started to gain a greater amount of possession. Around the 19th minute, a Riggins pass slipped through the middle and Gabby Hill-Junke found the ball at her foot on the far right side of the box.

She unleashed a shot to the far left post that slipped by GCC goalkeeper Lyndsey Szekely and the Indians had their one-goal lead.

“That was huge for us. We came out in the first half and we possessed the ball extremely well. It was some of the best soccer I’ve seen us play all season,” Lynch said. “They really battled in that whole first half and I think we came out and really left everything on the field.”

The Indians tacked one more on the board before the half as Riggins let a shot go from about 20 yards out with just under seven minutes left to put her team up 2-0. A halftime deficit wasn’t what the Centurions wanted to be facing against a side like Shady Side.

“We told the girls from the beginning that we had to give 100% 100% of the time and come out of the gate and score first,” Greensburg Central Catholic coach Ashley Davis said. “We weren’t able to do that, and that’s why we couldn’t come back. A two-goal lead is tough to come back from when both teams are pretty matched with skill.”

The Centurions, who were searching for their sixth title since 2010, cut Shady Side’s lead in half 14 minutes into the second frame. Bethany Winnor beat Shady Side goalie Molly Skvorak to a long free kick in the box and poked it by her into the back of the net.

At the beginning of the game, Winnor played in the center of the defense. After she made a few runs throughout the game, Davis decided to make the switch and it paid off.

“She was getting a couple more offensive chances and we thought that would help,” Davis said. “We saw little bit of success with that, but it was just a little too late.”

Greensburg Central Catholic created a few more chances throughout the remainder of the game but couldn’t quite find the back of the net to even the score.

Since 2010, Shady Side Academy and Greensburg Central Catholic have battled for WPIAL Class A supremacy. In the last nine years, Freedom is the only other team to capture a WPIAL title. Lynch was happy to see her team atop the classification again.

“I’m so proud of this group of girls. They’ve worked so hard this season,” Lynch said. “To see them come out here today and face GCC, one of our biggest rivals for years in both section and Class A, it definitely feels pretty good.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .

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