Two-time champ GCC girls soccer blanks Shady Side Academy to reach state semifinals
It was an 80-minute match, but the Greensburg Central Catholic girls soccer team needed about 10 minutes to advance in the PIAA playoffs.
The Centurions scored twice in the opening seven minutes and added another score less than four minutes into the second half on the way to a 4-0 PIAA Class A quarterfinal victory over Shady Side Academy on Saturday at Canon-McMillan.
It marked the second straight season the Centurions (23-1) knocked the Indians (18-5) out of the state playoffs.
Greensburg Central Catholic’s quest for a third consecutive PIAA title continues Tuesday against Freedom (15-9) at a site and time to be determined. The Centurions handled the Bulldogs, 9-1, in the WPIAL championship match.
Bailey Cartwright scored the first two goals Saturday to give her 56 for the season. Each time she chased down a looping pass and weaved her way toward the goal for a score.
“We know when we score first that we have the momentum,” Cartwright said. “It helps us for the rest of the game.”
The Centurions typically play a more possession-oriented game, but they felt they could exploit the Indians defense by kicking and chasing.
“We worked on that coming in,” GCC coach Bryan Cartwright said. “We know they play a 4-4-2 and they pack the middle, so we were hoping we could use some of our speed and get the ball over the top. Fortunately, it worked out for us quick.”
Cassie Sauter tapped in a loose ball early in the second half, and Keli Rosensteel added a goal on a penalty kick to put the match out of reach.
The Centurions swept their regular-season meetings with Shady Side Academy, winning 2-1 and 2-0. Saturday was an uncharacteristically wide margin of victory between two of the best Class A programs in the WPIAL. Since the addition of a Class A in 2010, either the Centurions or Indians have won every WPIAL championship.
“Trust me, coming into this game I in no way thought we would win 4-0,” coach Cartwright said. “I thought it would be a close battle, as it always is with Shady Side.”
The score could have been wider if not for the play of Indians goalie Samantha Morlacci, who made 11 saves and stopped Cartwright on several occasions.
“She’s got really good instincts, and she’s got really good reflexes,” Shady Side Academy coach Mary Lynch said. “She played a great game.”
The Indians early woes also included two key injuries. Starters Rachel Slaugenhaupt and Courtney Clark were knocked out of the match in the first half. Clark returned to play in the second half.
“We had a couple early injuries that took a little gas out of us,” Lynch said. “But as soon as we reorganized, I think we finished strong.”
Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.