Winchester Thurston uses big 2nd half to deny Greensburg C.C. its 3rd straight boys soccer title

Friday, November 5, 2021 | 11:05 PM

At halftime, the WPIAL Class A boys soccer final looked to be on the same script as the past two seasons.

The last 40 minutes, however, turned out quite different.

Winchester Thurston scored three second-half goals to overturn a halftime deficit and knock off two-time defending champion Greensburg Central Catholic, 3-1, on Friday night at Highmark Stadium.

Alex Hauskrecht, Jordan Poller-Prince and Tomer Tuti scored for the Bears (19-0-1), who had fallen to GCC (15-4-0) in the past two championship games.

“I don’t know that it was us getting over the hump, because in the past 10 meetings, we’ve been 5-5 against them,” Bears coach Adam Brownold said. “It was interesting having not played them this year in the regular season, but we know who they have, we know they’re fast, they’re talented and they’re the toughest opponent we’ve had all year.”

The Centurions took their 1-0 lead just 14 minutes into the game. Carlo Denis finished the play after receiving a pass from Ryan Appleby to score only the seventh goal the Bears have conceded all season.

But things began to change after the break, as the Bears started to gain momentum but couldn’t hit the target.

“We didn’t take care of all the little detailed things we talked about at halftime,” GCC coach Rob Fabean said. “We made mistakes throwing the ball into the other team, made mistakes with the wrong decision on the pass, mistakes with our marking. … At the end of the day, we didn’t do our job defensively, and you give up three goals in the second half, you’re not going to win many games like that.”

Despite Winchester Thurston’s better second half, it took a moment of brilliance from Hauskrecht to break open the scoring. With just 20 minutes remaining, Hauskrecht scored an “Olimpico” — a goal curled in directly from a corner kick — tying the score at 1-1.

“Typically, Alex doesn’t take our corners, Oliver (Daboo) does because we like Alex’s head in the box,” Brownold said. “But Alex has a foot that can do some magical things with the ball, and he did that today.”

The Bears pulled ahead with 9 minutes remaining when Daboo got behind the GCC defense. Goalkeeper Michael Oldenburg made a good initial save, but Poller-Price corralled the long rebound and put his team ahead 2-1.

Tuti added the insurance goal late, winning a ball off the defense and scoring with a shot to the top left corner of the net.

“I think the lanes (through the defense) were there all game, but we weren’t executing,” Brownold said. “First half, we did not play our game. We played our worst half of the season, and I think our players knew that. I think second half, especially after that goal, we were finding the lanes and playing the way we were supposed to play.”

It was the second WPIAL title in program history for Winchester Thurston, their first coming in 2014. Both teams progress to the PIAA tournament next week, where a rematch could be in order.

“We have a second shot now, and, hopefully, in two weeks, we’ll be playing them in the semifinal,” Fabean said. “We just need to make sure we clean things up next game and come out with a better attitude and work rate.”

Matt Grubba is a contributing writer.

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