Top-seeded Avonworth next challenge for Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer
From Day 1 of preseason conditioning, before uniforms were handed out and starters were named, the goal -- no, make that the mission statement -- for the Greensburg Central Catholic boys soccer team, was to bring home a WPIAL championship.
The thought of anything less than getting to the final was practically unacceptable. Wins were celebrated briefly and with little fanfare. The talent was there to win every game, the coach said, no excuses.
A runaway section title was nice, and a 15-game winning streak has made for some quality set dressing, but this team wants more -- all it can get.
“Keep grinding and we’ll get rewarded,” said freshman forward Ryan Reitler, who scored the game-winning goal Monday in a 2-1 Class A semifinal victory over Seton LaSalle.
That just may be the case.
No. 2 seed GCC (17-1) is a win away as it prepares to face No. 1 Avonworth (19-0-1) in the title game at 6 p.m. Thursday at Highmark Stadium at Station Square.
“For the guys to get to the final they had to come together and trust each other,” Centurions coach Tyler Solis said. “No more negativity; play for one another. They have done that. Our goal was to get here, now let’s see what happens.”
After a pair of painless shutouts in the first two rounds, the high-scoring Centurions ran into a rough-and-tumble semifinal against Seton LaSalle. Fouls and yellow cards piled up, but GCC kept its poise, despite falling behind 1-0 about 20 minutes in, to return to the finals for the first time since 2012.
Junior Nate Ward also scored for the Centurions off a deflection. He and senior Luke Mort have been one of the better one-two tandems throughout the postseason, but there are other offensive threats just waiting for their moment to strike -- like Reitler.
“They are one of those perennial teams that is always contending for a WPIAL championship,” Avonworth coach Tom Angell said of GCC. “They are consistent with what they do and are solid in all areas on the field. We strive to be that type of program. It’s our Super Bowl, and we’re playing against the Patriots. We’re ready for the challenge. We welcome the challenge.”
Avonworth has 14 shutouts and has only allowed two goals in October -- none in the playoffs.
Springdale tied the Antelopes, 0-0, in section play. Avonworth edged past the Dynamos in the semifinals, 1-0.
Mort isn’t concerned with Avonworth marking him because he has faith in his teammates.
“All of the guys have given great effort all season,” said Mort, a Pitt recruit. “It’s not about one or two guys like it has been here in the past. We’ve played really well as a team. If one guy is down, another picks him up.”
GCC has three WPIAL titles, all in Class A, in 2003, ’04 and ’09.
Avonworth has not won a championship in the sport but lost in the 2015 title game to Seton La Salle.