Short-handed Greensburg Central Catholic clips Seton LaSalle, advances to PIAA boys soccer semifinals

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Saturday, November 10, 2018 | 5:18 PM


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With two starting forwards hobbled by leg injuries, including standout Pitt recruit Luke Mort, Greensburg Central Catholic had to do some reconfiguring — of its schemes, its lineup and its outlook — for the PIAA Class A boys soccer quarterfinals.

Backups had to find their way into the flow, adjust to the speed of the state playoffs and negotiate the frigidly cold weather in a rematch with rough-up-and-tumble Seton LaSalle.

The WPIAL runner-up Centurions responded to the challenge with another tight victory, 1-0 over the Rebels to extend their season Saturday afternoon at Peters Township.

“Our coaches had us prepared,” said GCC junior defender Ethan Boyle, who had the goal. “We knew we’d have to make adjustments and our (backups) filled in well. Our left backer (Sebastian Cline) really played well.”

GCC will get a WPIAL finals rematch with Avonworth (22-0-1), the team it lost to Nov. 2 on penalty kicks at Highmark Stadium. The state semifinals will be Tuesday at a time and site to be determined.

Boyle scored with 5 minutes, 57 seconds to play in the first half on a set piece, and junior goalkeeper Patrick Brewer made eight saves for the shutout as the Centurions (19-2) advanced to the PIAA semifinals for the first time since 2009.

Mort, who has a team-best 35 goals, played sparingly, testing his right knee early and getting a few first-half touches on the wing before resting before halftime. The all-state forward returned with 9:55 remaining in the game and appeared to have mobility issues that slowed him substantially.

“I was hoping at the start it would be more of a mental thing when Luke wasn’t starting and (Seton La Salle) being maybe out of sorts because they had a gameplan against him,” GCC coach Tyler Solis said. “We pretty much stayed in our compact, and we wanted to keep the game nice and tight.”

Sophomore forward Rico Ciccarelli did not play for GCC. He and Mort were injured in a 3-2 PIAA playoff-opening win over Iroquois.

Solis, albeit reluctantly, let Mort play. Solis was a standout at Lower Dauphin and Robert Morris.

“Luke, for 80 minutes, asked me to go into the game,” Solis said. “I know, you’re a player and you love the game and want to play … obviously, we got the lead so I didn’t need to kill his leg. I want to see the kid get healthy and then we can shine. It was a great team effort. The kids who haven’t played and stepped up — phenomenal.”

Brewer batted away a shot by Kellen Krebs, who scored for the Rebels (19-5) against the Centurions in a 2-1 loss in the WPIAL semifinals, with 5:16 to play.

“We trusted our bench today,” said Brewer, who made a pair of tense saves in the final 12 minutes. “We knew what they were capable of. We play well as a team.”

Brewer also made an exceptional snag of a dangerous ball in front of the net just before the final buzzer.

Boyle headed in his fifth goal of the year — all of them have been the result of corner kicks — after three teammates touched the ball.

Sean Gargan inbounded to Nate Ward and Tom Salley ended up bumping the ball to Boyle, who finished.

The shorthanded Centurions kept the Rebels at bay for the better part of 60 minutes, disrupting passing lanes and giving Brewer help.

“Luckily, we got a nice corner and we were able to have a little set piece, ball goes in for us,” Solis said. “I think from there, we were never going to let the game go.”

Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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