Shaye Bailey’s hat trick torches Greensburg CC, sends Freedom to Class A state title game
Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | 10:21 PM
Looking more like she was ready for the homecoming court than someone who had just played a soccer game, Shaye Bailey cradled a bouquet of roses as she talked to reporters on a bitter cold Wednesday night in Monroeville.
White, pink, red: The flowers complemented the Freedom junior’s scarlet uniform.
“I don’t know why the roses, I just grabbed them off the ground,” Bailey said. “The game ended, and we started getting pelted with roses.”
Perhaps Freedom has started a new tradition to replace the traditional Hershey’s Kisses shower after state semifinal wins: a run for the roses.
WPIAL champion Freedom (20-4) is headed back to the state finals for the second time in five years.
GCC, looking to make the state finals for a third straight time, is done at 15-6.
It was the sixth postseason meeting between the teams in four years.
Bailey scored the winner in overtime when Freedom edged GCC, 4-3, in the WPIAL semifinals.
“She has that burst of speed, and nobody can catch her,” Bulldogs coach Colin Williams said. “We knew we could do this because we have Shaye.”
Freedom advances to the championship game at 10 a.m. Friday at Eagle View Middle School in Mechanicsburg to play Southern Columbia (17-6-1), the defending champion.
The finals were played in Hershey for 24 years before the PIAA moved them to Cumberland Valley for the next four.
“It doesn’t matter where we play,” Williams said. “It could be a parking lot. We’re there. That’s what matters.”
Bailey also had a Hershey’s bar in her hand after the win, so someone either missed the memo or was not willing to part all the way with tradition.
“I’m going to eat this, too,” Bailey said.
GCC could not keep up with the forward, who also plays basketball and softball and runs track.
“She turned her wheels on, man,” GCC coach Kara Batey said. “We got caught a little flat on defense.”
Bailey scored on a pair of 2-on-1 breakaways in the 13th and 18th minutes, taking long touches, dribbling past defenders and finishing past Centurions keeper Leah Jones, who made six saves on 15 Freedom shots.
The second goal looked like it missed wide left from some angles, but it actually went through the back of the net, which was not all the way fastened.
“We knew we wanted to get behind (the back line) with through balls,” Bailey said. “I just took them and ran as hard as I could and put them in. My legs were cramping, but I was able to finish.”
Her third goal came in the 63rd minute as she again outran the defense and struck to make it 3-0.
GCC’s top scorers, Sara Felder and Riley Kerr, were quiet. The Bulldogs forced them more to the middle of the attack, taking away wide runs.
“We couldn’t get the connection,” Batey said. “I am proud of the girls because they fought until the last second. Their heads didn’t drop.”
Felder nearly scored with 3:45 left with a shot in close, but Trinity Vojtko made a diving stop for her fifth save.
“The defense was great,” Bailey said. “Emma (Falk) worked her butt off to earn that spot, and she led the defense back there tonight.”
GCC had not been shut out since last year’s 4-0 loss to Southern Columbia in the state final.
“Our defense played well,” Williams said. “(GCC) didn’t really do anything to hurt us. Our keeper was solid. We’ve had 180 shots in our last six games (coming in). We knew we wanted to attack them. This was huge, winning 3-0. Our girls are going to remember this.”
Friday’s final will be a rematch from 2018, when Freedom lost to Southern Columbia, 3-2, in overtime.
The Bulldogs will be seeking their first state title.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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