End of the Ward family dynasty era in central Catholic football in Greensburg
Thursday, November 18, 2021 | 7:40 p.m.
The Ward surname has long been a part of Catholic football in Greensburg Central. He holds the pride and weight of the championship.
Three sisters and one brother carried on the family legacy as they worked their way up the program: Sarah, Sydney, Natalie and Nate.
They know a bit about playing for championships, WPIAL and PIAA, especially Sarah, who has won two state titles as a player.
She is now the assistant coach of the GCC Girls (18-2), who will face southern Colombia (18-7) for the second year in a row in the PIAA Class A Championship game at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.
Lately Ward has also been a history teacher.
His mentorship and experience are a luxury for the Centurions.
“I really enjoyed being able to share the history of the team and the winning tradition of GCC soccer with the girls,” said Ward. “It was a disappointing loss at WPIAL, but I explained how my team lost WPIAL in 2013 and still won States that year. It can be quite intimidating to play for these major championships, especially for young girls who have never been here before. We kept repeating every round of the playoffs to block all the pressure and expectations and play their game.
“We have a bunch of really talented girls who I know can do it on Saturday.”
Natalie Ward, a senior defenseman, is the last of her siblings to participate in the program.
“This will be one last bittersweet football game for the Wards,” said Sarah Ward. “We are so grateful for the friendships and experiences we have had over the years. “
GCC will make his seventh trip to the state final as he pursues his third state title.
Ward played on both state title teams, freshman and sophomore (2012-13). GCC defeated Conwell-Egan in 2012 (5-1) and Southern Columbia the following year (2-1).
She also has a state runner-up finish. Ward was a junior when the Centurions reached Hershey in 2014 and lost to Trinity Camp Hill (3-0).
Sydney Ward, now a junior midfielder at Akron, also played for the 2014 squad.
Their brother, Nate, a sophomore forward from Indiana, won two GCC WPIAL titles but did not reach the state final.
“I know I speak for all of my family when I say that we are so proud to have been a part of the success that CCG soccer has enjoyed over the years,” said Sarah Ward. “My siblings are all incredible leaders on and off the pitch and have been major contributors in these championship races. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to come back and coach during my younger sister Natalie’s senior year.
Natalie Ward wants to follow in Sarah’s footsteps and bring home another state gold.
“In the past, GCC teams have lost WPIALs and come back and win states, and that’s our goal,” she said. “We have a pretty young defense other than me, with two freshmen and a sophomore, but they’ve really stepped up their efforts.”
Family ties don’t end with wards. The branches extend from the family tree. Tatum Gretz, a senior scorer of over 100 goals, is a cousin.
Junior Jake Gretz was once again a member of the boys’ team this season. He won two WPIAL titles and was a state finalist in 2020.
Senior goalie Lyndsey Szekely, meanwhile, also brings family ties to her second straight game for the state title. Her cousin, Charlotte, played in the 2012 team that won PIAA gold.
The Felder sisters also know something about the PIAA final. Junior Sara performed last year alongside her sister, Sam, who now plays at IUP.
“It’s cool to see the family ties and for the girls to be successful,” said GCC head coach Olivia Kruger. “It’s a big part of the culture here – the family ties. It’s a tight-knit group of girls.
Junior Haley Gill will be making consecutive trips to Hershey. She joined her sister Alexa a year ago.
Another group of sisters on the current roster are the Winnors: Bethany senior and Ashley junior.
Bethany Winnor, a New Hampshire fighter, missed most of the season with an injury.
Key words: Greensburg CC