Over the past three seasons, expectations have been sky high for the Greensburg Central Catholic High School girls soccer team.
This season, they will be ramped up even more.
The Centurions are the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class A champions, they enter the season on a 23-game winning streak and they return two of the top goal scorers in WPIAL history, seniors Frannie Crouse and Malea Fabean.
"The past three seasons we have the same goals and we will continue to have the same goals moving forward," coach Ashley Shasko said. "Our goals are to win the WPIAL and to win states."
Three years ago, when Crouse and Fabean were freshman, Greensburg Central Catholic won 15 games but could not get past the WPIAL semifinals.
In 2011, Greensburg Central Catholic went 22-1, winning the WPIAL title, but the elusive state title remained just that as the Centurions were upset by Springdale in the PIAA semifinals.
Last season, everything finally came together.
Greensburg Central Catholic went 15-1 in the regular season. It won the Section 4 title, and then it looked mostly dominant in the playoffs, winning WPIAL and PIAA titles. It won two playoff games by seven goals each, one by six and one by five. It won the PIAA championship game against Conwell-Egan Catholic, 5-1.
The seniors on the team enter their final year of high school soccer with back-to-back WPIAL titles and one PIAA title. No one should expect the group to relax at this point.
"They have achieved the goal and that is in the past," Shasko said. "I know they are not going to stop until they achieve it again."
Crouse, a forward, scored 55 goals last season. For her career, she has 142 goals and 70 assists, and she has a chance to surpass the WPIAL record of 205 career goals set by Jess Strom, a 2001 Steel Valley graduate. Crouse has made a verbal commitment to Penn State.
Fabean, a midfielder, scored 36 goals and added 32 assists last season. She has also topped 100 career goals with 106 to go along with 87 assists. Fabean has made a verbal commitment to Pitt.
"I expect them to lead by example like they have always done," Shasko said. "I expect them to lead the team as far as they want to go and I know they want to win it all. They will take it upon themselves."
The team's third-leading scorer, junior forward Italia Biondi, transferred to Penn-Trafford this season.
"I don't want to say that someone has to step up and fill her role," Shasko said. "This is a different team with new faces, it will be different without her."
Greensburg Central Catholic is scheduled to close the regular season with a non-section match against Biondi and Class AAA Penn-Trafford on Oct. 14.
Shasko is also expecting big seasons out of sophomore midfielder Colby Crouse, Frannie's sister, and sophomore defender Sarah Ward. Greensburg Central Catholic only graduated two starters from last season.
"We definitely have a strong core of returning players," Shasko said.
As far as what local teams will present the biggest challenge to a WPIAL "three-peat," the Centurions do not have to look far. Within their section they have Class A powers Springdale and Shady Side Academy.
"It is always a battle with Springdale and Shady Side," Shasko said. "They are both good teams, and we are always going to have to play our best game [to defeat them]."
Greensburg Central Catholic opens its season Saturday when it plays host to Class AAA contender Pine-Richland.
First Published August 29, 2013 4:00 AM