Ward golden for Greensburg Central Catholic boys in PIAA quarterfinals

Saturday, November 9, 2019 | 7:45 PM

It looked like Springdale had rendered Greensburg Central Catholic senior standout Nate Ward powerless for the better part of 82 minutes Saturday afternoon.

As it turns out, Ward was biding his time before delivering another gem to extend the Centurions’ season.

The Indiana recruit has a penchant for the dramatic and refused to be upstaged.

A frustrated but patient Ward split two defenders, finally finding an opening through a defense that had snarled the Centurions’ attack, and buried a golden goal at 12 minutes, 18 seconds of overtime to lift GCC to a 1-0 victory in the PIAA Class A boys soccer quarterfinals at chilly Peters Township.

“They kept Nate quiet, and that frustrated us,” GCC coach Tyler Solis said. “Springdale played a really good game defensively, and they were very strong in the back. But we kept grinding.”

Ward’s 30th goal of the season pushed GCC (17-3-1) back into the state semifinals, where it will face section rival Winchester Thurston (18-2) — the team it beat, 1-0, on a Ward goal in the WPIAL championship — on Tuesday at a time and site to be determined.

The winner of that game goes to the PIAA title game in Hershey.

“It was partially my fault,” Ward said about his lack of shots in regulation. “I wasn’t staying high up like they wanted me to. I was playing back more. I went high (on the game-winner), and it worked out.”

Springdale ends the season at 17-5. The Dynamos, who never have advanced to the state semifinals, also lost to GCC in the WPIAL semifinals, 4-2, when they played a man down following a red card on Sammy Rzeszotarski.

“It can all be over in a second. That’s all it takes in games like this,” Dynamos coach Cesareo Sanchez said. “It could have gone either way. We changed our system some and played a little more controlled to try and take away their space. It was a great game, and I am happy with how our team played.”

The strategy produced only six shots on goal for GCC, and the Dynamos had four.

Springdale keeper Andrew Haus made six saves.

“We can’t have our best performance every game,” Solis said. “I told the guys that. It’s not going to be perfect. We just had to stay positive.”

Ward, who had a matching hat trick with freshman teammate Carlo Denis in the first round of states, said junior Seth Skowronek deserved credit for his defensive play for GCC, calling him a “lockdown guy,” while he applauded the game played by Springdale’s Michael Mitchell.

“It was a tough game,” Ward said, “but it was fun.”

Ward just missed putting in a header with 1:15 to go in regulation, and Springdale’s Ephrain Duku’s blast gave GCC a scare with 55 seconds left.

Springdale junior midfielder Roman Liberati injured his leg and was helped off the field with 20:31 to play in the first half.

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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