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Greensburg Central Catholic soccer team gets past Freedom

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Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Greensburg Central Catholic's Olivia Binda stops a shot in front of Freedom's Tina Davis during their PIAA Class A semifinal Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, at North Allegheny High School.

Keli Rosensteel knows just how good her Greensburg Central Catholic soccer team is. When it came down to it, she let Freedom know as well.

Rosensteel, a sophomore midfielder, scored a crucial first-half goal that helped the Centurions pull away from Freedom for a 4-1 PIAA Class A semifinal victory at North Allegheny.

GCC (24-1) will face District 3 champion Trinity in the final at 5 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium in an attempt to claim its third consecutive state title.

“This is our third year playing in states and that’s helped us,” GCC coach Bryan Cartwright said. “They don’t panic and we continue to play our style of soccer.”

The upstart Bulldogs (15-10) made a better match of it than they did in the WPIAL championship, which the Centurions ran away with, 9-1, on Nov. 1.

After the Centurions scored twice in the first six minutes courtesy of Bailey Cartwright and Megan Shearson, it looked like a replay of the WPIAL finals.

But the Bulldogs’ Alexa Schwab bent a penalty kick past GCC goalie Olivia Binda, who had not allowed a goal in the state playoffs to that point, and all of a sudden it was 2-1 with 27:26 remaining before halftime.

Rosensteel, who owned the midfield for most of the match with her rugged style of play, made it her mission to answer back. She found the net off a shot from about 30 yards out to put the Centurions back in command just three minutes later.

“I just wanted to show them we were in control,” Rosensteel said.

That goal was the turning point of the match, Freedom coach Colin Williams said.

“That killed our momentum,” he said. “We had a good thing going, and it killed us a little bit.”

Cartwright, a sophomore striker, added her second goal of the first half and 58th of the year by chasing down a lead pass from Sydney Ward, to give GCC a comfortable 4-1 lead at the break.

The Bulldogs settled down in the second half and did not give the Centurions as many scoring chances. When they did, freshman goalie Jacklyn Hartle, who finished with seven saves, was there.

Williams said it came down to the Centurions having more firepower. Cartwright, who is in his first season as coach, agrees.

“I didn’t do anything,” Cartwright said. “Later on in the season, you can tell that they’re coming together. It’s the girls.”

While the Centurions aim to continue their dominance, Freedom hopes to build a dominant program of its own after its memorable season.

“We’ll be there next year,” Williams said. “Hopefully, we can get a dynasty of our own going in the WPIAL. Keep an eye on us next year.”

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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