East Xtra: Greensburg Central stunned by finals loss

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Since 2010 there have been high expectations, great achievements but also major upsets for the Greensburg Central Catholic girls soccer team.

The one thing along the way that one will not find is excuses.

With all-state talent in seniors Frannie Crouse and Malea Fabean and a very strong supporting cast, the Centurions have entered every regular season and every postseason with incredibly high expectations resting on their shoulders.

The expectations have not been a burden; the program fully embraces them.

In four years the Centurions are a combined 78-9-1. They have won 3 section titles, 2 WPIAL titles and 1 PIAA title.

Almost as much as the achievements, the upsets and disappointments are also hard to forget.

There were the back-to-back losses in 2010 in the WPIAL semifinals and consolation game that denied a young Greensburg Central Catholic team a shot at a WPIAL title or PIAA playoffs.

There was the 2011 PIAA semifinal loss to Springdale, a team Greensburg Central Catholic had defeated three times previously that season.

This past Saturday at Highmark Stadium in the WPIAL Class A final there was another upset ... against section rival Shady Side Academy.

Greensburg Central Catholic had defeated Shady Side Academy in nine consecutive games, including outscoring the Indians, 15-5, in two wins this season. The Centurions had won 17 consecutive games and nobody had stayed within five goals of them since Sept. 20.

But when the final whistle blew, an upset for the ages was finalized, Shady Side Academy 4, Greensburg Central Catholic 2.

"With players as good as we have and a team as strong as we have there is no excuse," Greensburg Central Catholic coach Ashley Shasko said. "We needed to win that game and we didn't.

"Certainly there are no guarantees. We set high goals and I am not going to make concessions about it. We set the bar pretty high and there is no reason to lower the bar."

Greensburg Central Catholic (18-2) opened play in the PIAA playoffs Tuesday with a 6-3 victory against Karns City at Clarion University as Crouse scored three goals.

With a No. 1 seed and expectations of winning a WPIAL title, moral victories may be the last thing on a coach's mind after an upset loss but Shasko could take solace in the way her team battled on Saturday.

The Indians struck first with a goal in the 10th minute when Eliza Cochran headed in a corner kick. Shady Side Academy took a 2-0 lead in the 38th minute and just like that Greensburg Central Catholic was staring down a two-goal deficit for the first time this season against a Class A opponent.

With Shady Side Academy playing with four defenders and an extra defensive midfielder, the Greensburg Central Catholic offense still found a way to break through. Fabean nearly scored right before halftime before Shady Side Academy cleared away a ball on the goal line.

Fabean came out firing in the second half and finally broke through with two goals in nine minutes to equalize the score.

But Shady Side Academy responded with goals in the 55th and 64th minutes to stun Greensburg Central Catholic.

"If there is a positive to take away from it, we definitely have the spirit to fight back," Shasko said. "Hopefully, we won't be in that situation again, it is a lesson learned."

Crouse scored 16 goals in the WPIAL playoffs. Her next goal will be her 200th career. She already has the Greensburg Central Catholic program record.

Fabean has 149 career goals and a Pennsylvania state record of 116 career assists. There is plenty of firepower around Crouse, a Penn State recruit, and Fabean, a Pitt recruit. Freshman Bailey Cartwright has 21 goals and 22 assists this season, junior Megan Shearson has 24 assists and sophomore Colby Crouse, Frannie's younger sister, has 14 assists.

Junior goalkeeper Olivia Binda has 18 career shutouts and 37 career wins.

The seniors on the team are Crouse, Fabean, defender Deanna Dicesare and backup goalie Neeka Matthews. Crouse, Fabean and Dicesare are captains.

"Teams win championships -- that is what it takes to win," Shasko said. "That is what has brought us so far. We have been successful as a team and our individual accomplishments are a testament to our strength as a team."

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