Boys soccer coach Tom Sochacki is certain of one thing as he looks back on Greensburg Central Catholic High School's 2012 season that concluded with a 4-1 loss to Biglerville last Saturday in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals.
"There were a lot of emotions following that game," Sochacki said in the wake of the loss that ended the Centurions' season with an overall record of 16-6-1 and a second-place finish in the WPIAL Class A tournament.
"But when [the seniors] look back on their careers, they will realize they were probably the winningest class [to play soccer] in the history of the school."
It's hard to dispute his logic.
The 11 seniors on this season's 21-man Centurions roster played in three WPIAL championship games, winning the 2009 Class A title 2-1 against Springdale, and losing in the 2010 and 2012 title games to Seton-LaSalle, 3-0, and Riverside, 2-1.
"[The seniors] also played in three state tournaments," the second-year coach said. "They also helped me a lot in my first year here. They helped me with where we wanted to go with this program and took it to another level."
The four-year record for the Greensburg Central seniors was 71-16-1.
The 2013 season holds much promise.
The Centurions' leading scorer, sophomore Adam Tucker, returns. A 5-foot-7 forward from Belle Vernon, he scored 18 goals.
Coming back with him are Greensburg Central's top three defenders -- Mycal Pedder, a 5-10, 165-pound junior from Penn Township; Frank Fratto, a 6-0, 175-pound junior from Scottdale; and Ben Brandon, a 6-1, 170-pound junior from Irwin.
Sochacki believes he can build a successful team around those three defenders.
"The way we play, it's a lot easier to win, 1-0, than to get into a 5-4 shootout with some teams," the Centurions coach said. "When you have an experienced defense, you can move some kids around. A solid defense will set the tone going forward."
The Centurions must find some offense, though, as the second- and third-leading scorers -- Jack Fagan, a 5-9, 170-pound forward from Scottdale, and Justin Nolfi, a 6-0, 170-pound forward from Irwin -- are graduating. Fagan scored 15 goals and Nolfi added 12.
Help is on the way.
The junior high had 22 players on its squad this year, and they have learned the approach used by the Centurions' varsity team.
"They'll be joining the 11 players we have coming back," Sochacki said. "And the five guys who didn't start who are coming back saw 20 to 30 minutes of playing time per game, and they'll see 60 to 80 minutes next year."
Sochacki encourages his student-athletes to compete in other sports.
"I was a three-sport athlete myself," the coach said. "I think playing multiple sports makes you more athletic.
"We have guys who ran cross country. Some other guys are playing basketball, baseball and lacrosse. Jack Fagan was the kicker on our football team. So there was a lot of running around for them this year."
It's too soon to review the season just completed with his players, but Sochacki said he expects to do that shortly.
"I've told them that only one team ends up winning its last game, and losing hurts right now," he said. "But when they see what they accomplished this year -- and what the seniors accomplished over the past four years -- they are going to feel better about what we did."