H.S. GIRLS SOCCER: Southern Columbia wins District 4 title
HEPBURNVILLE - Southern Columbia has won a lot of games this season.
None were as big as the Tigers' 4-2 victory over Millville Saturday for the District 4 Class A championship.
"This is a great group of kids and I can't say enough about them," Southern Columbia head coach Derek Stine said. "They worked their butts off tonight."
And no one was a bigger part of that than Bailey Bzdak.
The Tigers' senior scored a hat trick in the second half to give Southern its first district gold for any girls' sports team since 2002.
"It's really exciting, especially for it to come during our senior year," Bzdak said. "If we wouldn't have gotten this far, our season, and our career, would have been over. It's definitely exciting to win the league, the district and be moving onto states. Hopefully we can do big things there, too."
Southern Columbia will play Schuylkill Haven, the District 11 Class A champ, Tuesday at a site and time to be announced.
As with its other games this postseason, Southern had a distinct statistical edge, but had a hard time netting its first goal.
Before Southern's Jensen Kremser scored on a direct kick in the 27th minute, the Tigers had four balls bounce off either the crossbar or posts.
"Those crossbar ones were a little frustrating," said Bzdak, who scored her 50th goal earlier this season. "It would have been nice for them to go in, but we didn't have anyone there to follow through and finish it. A couple just bounced off people the wrong way but it was nice to finish the ones we did finish."
The Tigers got off 10 shots in the
first half to the Quakers' none, and had eight corner kicks in the first 40 minutes.
"Between the crossbar and the sides, it was unbelievable," Stine said. "Opportunities were missed, but they never gave up. They just kept pounding."
Southern also led in a category it would have rather avoided - yellow cards.
First Haley Levan, then Bzdak were carded near the end of the first half. That didn't deter the Tigers from continuing to play aggressively and push the action.
If anything, Bzdak seemed to come back from her five-minute break refocused.
After Millville's Maci Bower tied the game in the 47th minute thanks to a give-and-go with her sister Madi, Bzdak scored three minutes later on a penalty kick.
Another Millville goal was then waived off because the Quakers were offsides, then Abbey Herr saved a shot from Maci Bower and Avory Pantalone used her head to knock away a header bound for the back of the net.
Bzdak scored her second goal in the 67th minute on an assist from Christina Podpura, and her third goal in the 74th minute.
"I think the more intense we play, the better we do, and we came out pretty intense," Bzdak said. "Millville came out intense, too, but when we come out excited and focused I feel like we do better than we normally do if we come out slow."
Maci Bower scored her second goal in the 78th minute and Millville sent a total of 10 shots at Herr in the second half, but Southern was determined not to let this big game slip away from them.
"The entire team has gelled," Stine said. "They were ready to play Thursday before the rainout. We had two days of fun practice and then we were ready for today."
Millville 1 1 - 2
S. Columbia 1 3 - 4