The expectations are no less than to win a state championship.
Those were the expectations last year and those are once again the expectations this year for the Greensburg Central Catholic High School girls' soccer team.
Hopes for a PIAA gold trophy for the program were dashed last year after a surprising upset loss to Springdale in the PIAA Class A semifinals.
Through this past offseason, the expectations were not about to change.
They were not about to change after the team graduated its starting goalkeeper and top defender. And the expectations were certainly not going to change despite a shocking 9-0 setback to Fox Chapel in the 2012 regular-season opener.
Lofty goals can be expected when you boast a roster that features juniors Malea Fabean and Frannie Crouse, two of the top goal-scorers in the country. Fabean and Crouse were both all-section and All-WPIAL selections as freshmen and sophomores and are NCAA Division I recruits.
Crouse, a Penn State University recruit, has 87 career goals in just two seasons, including a single-season program record of 55 last year that ranked ninth in the nation. Crouse also has 49 assists. Fabean, a University of Pittsburgh recruit, has 70 career goals and 55 career assists. Fabean's 35 assists last season ranked fifth in the nation.
A state championship seems a fitting goal considering the team has done basically everything else over the past two seasons.
In that time the Centurions have gone 37-6-1. They won a WPIAL Class A championship last year. They had a 22-game winning streak, 37th longest in the country. They combined for 141 goals last season, sixth most in the nation, according to the web site ESPNHS.com.
And it has not just been Fabean and Crouse doing all of the work -- far from it.
Sophomore forward Italia Biondi scored 21 goals last season. Sophomore midfielder Cassie Sauter had nine goals and 22 assists last year.
Coach Ashley Shasko also has high expectations for senior defender Pauline Cole, senior midfielder Charlotte Szekely and sophomore defender Megan Shearson.
With Megan's older sister, former Greensburg Central goalie Mackenzie Shearson, now at the University of Pittsburgh and with last year's top defender Claire Gongaware now playing at Gannon University, the defense was a major question mark for Shasko entering the season and those questions did not go away after the eye-opening 9-0 loss to Fox Chapel, a perennial Class AAA contender.
"As much as we have experience, we have a lot of new players on defense," Shasko said. "The Fox Chapel loss was a learning experience. Sometimes you need a good old-fashioned butt-kicking to get you going. They put the loss behind them very quickly."
Last year it was the Centurions on the winning end of games decided by nine goals or more seven times.
The team looked more like the 2011 version during its second game of the year when it bounced back to blast Geibel Catholic, 16-0. One week later it had a long-awaited rematch with section rival Springdale. Greensburg Central defeated the Dynamos, 2-1, in overtime with Biondi and sophomore midfielder Domenique Stauffer scoring the goals.
"I think for a lot our players [the loss to Springdale in the PIAA semifinals last year] was fresh in their mind," Shasko said. "It is a good healthy rivalry. They make us better by playing them."
Greensburg Central, Springdale and Shady Side Academy are the clear-cut top three teams in Section 4-A. Three days after the Springdale game, Greensburg Central knocked off Shady Side Academy, 4-1.
"[Springdale and Shady Side] are good teams and they are always going to give us a challenge," Shasko said.
The Centurions were scheduled to play St. Joseph on Wednesday and Riverview on Friday.
"We absolutely expect to win the WPIAL championship," Shasko said. "We want to go on and win the state championship. We were really close last year. We think we can get there this year."