PIAA Girls Soccer Finals: Hersheypark a sweet destination for two

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While the WPIAL soccer championships found a new home this year at Highmark Stadium in Station Square, for teams with PIAA championship aspirations, Hersheypark Stadium has remained the desired destination.

Hersheypark Stadium, the longtime home of the PIAA soccer championships, will once again play host to the finals tonight and Saturday.

The WPIAL will have two representatives, Central Valley in Class AA and Greensburg Central Catholic in Class A. It will be the first time since the PIAA expanded to three classifications in girls soccer that the WPIAL is not represented in all three classes.

Three-time defending PIAA Class AAA champion Peters Township was eliminated by Seneca Valley in the PIAA quarterfinals, and the Raiders fell in double overtime Tuesday in the semifinals.

Class AA

Central Valley has reached the PIAA championship match for the first time in the four-year history of the program. The Warriors went through the "eastern portion" of the bracket two years ago to reach the PIAA semifinals but lost to Villa Joseph Marie. This time the Warriors had to go through section rival Hopewell. They defeated the Vikings in the WPIAL championship game and again Tuesday in the PIAA semifinals.

Central Valley (22-0) will face Camp Hill Trinity (22-2) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium. Trinity is the District 3 runner-up. The Shamrocks defeated District 4 champion Montoursville, District 2 champion Scranton Prep and District 1 champion Villa Joseph Marie.

Trinity has yet to concede a goal in the PIAA playoffs while scoring nine times. Placed in the western side of the bracket last season, Trinity lost to eventual PIAA champion Moon in the PIAA quarterfinals.

"Anytime you go to Hershey, it is great, we are excited," Central Valley coach Mark Perry said. "We flew under the radar most of the year, now we have won 22 in a row and we are going to Hershey. We are going to have some fun and we are representing the WPIAL."

Central Valley along with Class AAA District 1 champion and PIAA finalist Neshaminy (24-0) are the only undefeated girls teams remaining in the state.

Central Valley boasts an offensive attack keyed by senior Katie Alexander and freshman Carolina Lucci and a defense led by senior Ashley Mutkus, a converted attacker.

"It means so much," Alexander said of reaching the PIAA final. "We have worked so hard for this, it paid off and it feels great."

Class A

Greensburg Central Catholic will seek consecutive PIAA championships when it meets District 4 champion Southern Columbia (22-1-1) at 5 p.m. today at Hersheypark Stadium.

Since the PIAA expanded to three classifications in girls soccer in 2011, District 4 and District 7 (WPIAL) have won all three state championships. Warrior Run won in 2010 and '11, and Greensburg Central Catholic won last season.

The Centurions (20-2) brushed aside an upset loss in the WPIAL championship game to Shady Side Academy to outscore their three PIAA opponents, 17-3, including a 2-0 win against Shady Side Academy in the PIAA semifinals.

In the PIAA semifinals, Greensburg Central Catholic senior forward Frannie Crouse scored her 206th career goal, setting the all-time WPIAL career scoring record.

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

Crouse has 64 goals and senior midfielder Malea Fabean has 46 goals this season. Fabean has 117 career assists, the all-time Pennsylvania record, but the Centurions unveiled a new wrinkle Tuesday night, moving Fabean to defense to slow down the Shady Side Academy attack.

It worked as the Centurions became the first team to shut out the Indians this season. The shutout was the eighth for junior goalie Olivia Binda this season and 20th for her career.

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