East Xtra: Greensburg CC soccer lives up to its billing

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When the postseason began, Greensburg Central Catholic High School knew it faced a tall challenge as the top-seeded team in the WPIAL Class A girls soccer tournament.

For a brief moment, the team had to recover from a one-sided defeat on opening day. That was when Class AAA Fox Chapel stampeded to a 9-0 victory against the Centurions back on Aug. 31.

"Fox Chapel was a very good team," said Ashley Shasko, who is in her third season as the Centurions coach. "We were going into that game with a lot of returning players, but we were still trying to figure out where we should put them. We knew we would have to change some things around."

Since that stinging loss to the Foxes, who qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA girls tournament, losing has been eliminated from Greensburg Central's vocabulary.

The Centurions raced through Section 4-A with a 12-0 record, and their overall mark improved to 19-1 upon defeating Sewickley Academy, 2-0, in the WPIAL Class A championship game last Saturday at Baldwin.

Both teams qualified for the PIAA Class A tournament that began on Tuesday night. Greensburg Central Catholic (20-1) routed District 9 champion Karns City, 7-2, at Hampton. Sewickley Academy edged District 5 champion Conemaugh Township, 1-0, at Somerset. Shady Side Academy, the consolation-game winner, topped Fairview, 3-0.

"After that first game, it didn't take long for everything to come togther," Shasko said. "We had a lot of returning starters [from the 2011 WPIAL Class A championship team], but it took a lot of hard work. Every season is different, so you have to adjust as the season goes along."

One coach impressed by the Centurions' play was Sewickley's Jessica Peluso.

"Greensburg is by far the best team we've played this season," she said. "We enjoyed the challenge, and it would be nice to see them again."

That could take place only in next Tuesday's semifinals.

Greensburg Central has proved it knows how to score goals, racking up 115 in the regular season. Through four WPIAL playoff games, the Centurions scored 20 more.

As for defense, few teams have found the back of the Centurions' net as they have yielded just 11 goals in their 20 victories.

Two players have sparked the Centurions offense -- juniors Frannie Crouse and Malea Fabean. Crouse scored both goals in the Centurions' victory against Sewickley Academy, giving her 45 goals for the season and 105 in her career. Fabean has scored 30 goals this season.

Shasko doesn't like to single out players for recognition, choosing to emphasize the team aspect. But she was pleased with what she found when she became the team's coach.

"The girls already had high standards, and they'd already set a lot of goals for themselves," Shasko said. "That's a big part of this school. We have good teams here.

"The culture of this school is to develop high-achieving students in the classroom and on the field. What I've found is that these students are very driven and want to be the best. That's what makes them the best."

Greensburg CC could field a solid team next year, too. Three seniors are on the roster, and just one of them started in the championship game. But that's the least of Shasko's concerns at this point.

"We'll look at that once the season ends," she said. "We've won the WPIAL championship. We have four more games to play, and our next goal is to win the state championship."



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