WPIAL Girls Soccer Class 1A Final
FINAL: Steel Valley 2, Greensburg Central Catholic 1 (OT)
Steel Valley girls soccer team captured its first-ever WPIAL Girls Soccer championship in dramatic fashion at Highmark Stadium on Friday evening.
The Ironman rallied for a late second half goal from Soraya Gibbs, then had the game winner in the first overtime from a player, Therese Doering a freshman midfielder who quit the team halfway through the season, only to return to help them win the WPIAL title. The goals were assisted by Kelsey Salopek and Kylie Salopek.
“It’s just amazing” Bill Abraham, Steel Valley’s Head Coach said. “The girls worked so hard for this and played the best game I’ve ever seen in my 18 years here. After 14 years in this program and four years with the middle school, that was the best performance I’ve ever seen.””
Sara Felder scored the lone goal for Greensburg Central Catholic, who came up short in its bid for a repeat championship.
“Both teams gave everything they had. It was a really close game,” Hope Creamer, Greensburg Central Catholic’s assistant coach, who was filling in for head coach Olivia Kruger, who gave birth earlier in the day to a newborn son. “Our girls were focused and wanted it really bad. We’ll remember how this feels and want to keep winning. We have a lot of seniors that don’t want to stop playing.”
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Post game, Abraham told us the game winning goal scorer Therese Doering actually quit mid season. “She’s the assistant coaches daughter. It was rough but we went over and talked to her and I said ‘You don’t want to miss this.” From then on, that’s when she did most of her scoring, getting about 14 goals on the year.”
Back Story and How It Happened
Girls Class A which is known for its repetitiveness of finalist teams year-after-year, saw Greensburg Central Catholic making their fourth straight trip to the WPIAL finals.
New to the party is Steel Valley.
Last year Steel Valley was knocking on the door as they lost in the semi final round. This year they found their way to Highmark hoping as the No. 3 seed to knock off the top-seeded Centurions.
It was quite a day for Greensburg Central Catholic, as they found out early this morning they would be minus their head coach, Olivia Kruger for the final.
Kruger and her husband Zach (Seton Hills Women’s Soccer) are welcoming a new born baby boy into the world.
Assistant coaches Hope Creamer and GCC Alum Sarah Ward handled the bench duties.
“Our HC (Olivia Kruger) had a boy,” Creamer said. “She’s been there since 1 a.m.”
Sarah Ward is no stranger to WPIAL finals, winning three WPIAL Championships and a finalist during her four years at GCC.
Ward had the game winning goal in double overtime over Charleroi in 2015.
To bring it back to the present, each team, as in most tightly contested finals matches, went through their feeling out period and moments of possessions in the first half. As the first half was over the game slowly started to open up with a few shots not on frame and one on goal for GCC and two on goal for Steel Valley.
The second half would provide the fireworks!
In the 59th minute, a through ball from Tatum Gretz to Sara Felder would find the far-right side of the net to put the defending champions up 1-0.
“It’s amazing how she can just run for days,” Creamer said of her team’s leading scorer. “I’m really proud of her and all the work she’s put in.”
Shortly after, building on its momentum, GCC had a chance to extend their lead to two when Riley Kerr slipped through a couple Steel Valley defenders and shot the ball wide.
With time running down, Steel Valley, pushing for the equalizer, played through it’s top scorer and playmaker, forward Kelsey Salopek.
In this match, Salopek, who was routinely double or triple teamed every time she touched the ball, played a ball to Soraya Gibbs in stride, who found the back of the net. The goal would be disallowed on a questionable offside call, keeping it 1-0 in favor of GCC.
The game would be stopped for a short period as fans were letting the near official know their disappointment in the call.
Steel Valley's goal is taken away. Kelsey Salopek sets up Soraya Gibbs in the box but it's called offsides. SV fans are not happy and a few are being kicked out by the refs now. Police are coming over to calm things down.
— Jordan Smith (@JSmith_1187) November 5, 2021
“After a few fans got kicked out, it helped us relax,” Abraham said. “We watched their team on film and knew we could beat them it would just be tough. We just needed to take Felder out of the game and make sure she didn’t get chances.”
Steel Valley would find the combination again with 4:44 left in the second half, Salopek to Gibbs would be onside and tie the game at one.
Each team would get a chance for a winner but the clock would run out on the second half and the match would head to overtime.
“It was a bad call on the offside for our goal. A lot of teams would’ve folded there,” Abraham said. “Our team is just different. If we cut practice they get mad at us, they’re just special.”
In the first overtime Steel Valley’s Kylie Salopek, would line up a free kick from about 40 yards from goal. The kick would make its way into the six-yard box amongst a mob of players. The ball would find the foot of Therese Doering who would send it into the net and win the championship.
A game winning goal that was almost not for Doering. Early in the season she would take a short break from the game.
Her father and assistant coach Patrick Doering told his daughter “You don’t want to miss this.”
Well Therese would not miss it, literally as she has the championship game winner to a magical season for Steel Valley.
On a night when memories of late game winners for GCC where in the air, Steel Valley created their very own special overtime winner for their first WPIAL Class 1A Championship.