PIAA soccer: Greensburg Central Catholic state champs again

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HERSHEY, Pa. — In short order, Fran Crouse would talk about the goals that made her Greensburg Central Catholic team the top Class A girls soccer team in the state. Again.

But it was her first shot of Friday’s PIAA Class A girls soccer championship game that made possible her two second-half goals and the Centurions’ 2-1 victory against Southern Columbia.

“I sent my first shot directly at the goal keeper [Southern’s Abbey Herr],” Crouse said. “I couldn’t believe I did that. I said right there that would have to change.”

Change it did. Crouse dribbled and sprinted her way past the tenacious Tigers twice in the second half for goals that gave the Centurions their second PIAA Class A girls soccer title in a row.

For the bulk of the game, Greensburg (21-2) was generally the better team. The Centurions had considerably more possession, more opportunities … and a 1-0 halftime deficit.

Southern (22-2-1) might have had a little less star power than Greensburg, but the Tigers made up for it in pure grit.

Southern’s in-your-face play kept Greensburg from finishing on the offensive end, but the Tigers were paying a price by rarely venturing past the Centurions 30.

But late in the half, Southern’s Aly Stavinski won a scramble, chipped the ball to Mackenzie Clark, and the Tiger senior pushed it past Greensburg keeper Olivia Binda, who was otherwise flawless, for a 1-0 lead at the 28:57 mark.

It was Southern’s first shot on goal of the game.

“We just needed to focus on doing the little things right,” Greensburg head coach Ashley Shasko said. “I was confident we’d come back.”

Fifteen minutes into the second half, Crouse scooped up a loose ball near Southern’s 30. Unmarked, she darted forward, splitting two Southern defenders who converged on her at the 15.

Free, Crouse was one-on-one with Herr and planted a right-footer in the back corner for the equalizer at 54:36.

The goal tipped the game toward Greensburg.

Crouse struck again, breaking away with a dribble left, angling in slightly, then blasting a left-foot rocket completely across the goal mouth to the far corner for the winner with just 7:26 left in regulation.

“It was a hard shot,” said Crouse, who is heading to Penn State next year. “But I’m used to taking them.”

Southern head coach Derek Stine wasn’t surprised. “She’s just a great player; it’s as simple as that. We played a good hard game against a very good team, but — no offense to the rest of their team — she beat us.”

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