East Xtra: Greensburg CC advances to state final

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Malea Fabean, a fixture in the Greensburg Central Catholic offense for the past four seasons, was nowhere to be found in the offensive attack Tuesday night in the PIAA Class A semifinals.

Greensburg Central Catholic coach Ashley Shasko made the decision, before the biggest game of the season, to move Fabean to defense.

Even playing out of her natural position, it was still easy to spot Fabean.

For one, she was wearing a pink head band and neon green cleats that contrasted against the snow-coated turf pitch at Chartiers Valley.

And more importantly because Fabean, the all-time Pennsylvania career assist leader, showed she was just as capable at denying goals as she was at setting them up.

Fabean's defense and the offense of the Crouse sisters, Frannie and Colby, helped the Centurions knock off Shady Side Academy, 2-0, Tuesday night in the PIAA Class A semifinals.

Greensburg Central Catholic will return to Hersheypark Stadium for the second consecutive season. It will look to retain its state championship when it plays District 4 champion Southern Columbia (22-1-1) at 5 p.m. Friday.

The Centurions have been a team on a mission since a stunning WPIAL championship game loss to Shady Side Academy. After defeating the Indians nine consecutive times, including outscoring them 15-5 this season, Greensburg Central Catholic fell, 4-2, to its section rivals in the WPIAL final.

Defensive adjustments were not needed as Greensburg Central Catholic blasted District 9 champion Karns City, 6-3, in the PIAA first round and District 10 champion Wilmington, 9-0, in the PIAA quarterfinals.

But in "GCC vs. SSA IV," Shasko decided to make the move.

"We knew we had to play a better defensive game and we definitely did that," Shasko said. "I expected it would be a tighter game -- they have gotten tighter all year."

Sophomore Colby Crouse scored in the 17th minute of the game to give Greensburg Central Catholic an early lead and senior Frannie Crouse added the all-important insurance goal three minutes into the second half.

Frannie Crouse's goal was more than just an insurance goal. It put her in rarefied air. She became the all-time career goal-scoring leader in WPIAL history with 206 goals, separating herself from 2001 Steel Valley graduate Jess Strom.

"I think it was great and I think it was really memorable and I'm so happy for her but we still want to win the state championship and I'm sure there are still goals to be scored," Shasko said.

Frannie Crouse was worried about team goals rather than individual accomplishments but she did express relief about getting the record-breaking goal before the state championship match.

"I mean I wanted it, of course, but if I didn't get it, I didn't get it. I just wanted our team to win," Crouse said. "I was kind of nervous because I was hoping to score this game but I was like: 'If we just get another win, I'll hope to score in the final' but I was glad I got it in this game."

The temperature dipped below 30 degrees during the second half and snow covered the field from pregame flurries.

"I can't feel my feet," Shasko said after the game. "We haven't really played on snow, but the girls did a great job of adjusting and not letting circumstances be a factor in their game."

Just minutes after becoming the all-time leading goal scorer in WPIAL history, Frannie Crouse was busy praising her teammates.

"Malea can play anywhere, she is such a great player," Frannie Crouse said. "Having her back there, I felt so much more confident. It was nice having her back there even though I missed her in the midfield.

"It was so nice for Colby to score, she is such a great player and I love playing with my sister. I am going to miss her next year. I was so happy for her."

Thanks to their performance Tuesday night, the sisters and the rest of the Centurions will have one more chance to play together.

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