H.S. GIRLS SOCCER: Southern Columbia wins, reaches PIAA Final Four
HAMBURG - This time, Southern Columbia didn't monkey around.
After falling behind 3-0 early in their first state playoff game, the Tigers went out Saturday and played gorilla against Halifax, scoring two goals in the first 20 minutes to jumpstart a 3-1 win over the Wildcats in the PIAA Class A state quarterfinals at Hamburg.
Southern (21-1-1) will play Tulpehocken, a 2-0 winner over Christopher Dock in another quarterfinal, Tuesday, possibly at Hamburg again, in the semifinals.
"We talked after the last game about not coming out sluggish like we did in that one," said Southern Columbia coach Derek Stine. "It was a great way to get started."
Southern started the game aggressively, winning almost every contested ball in the first 10 minutes, and spending almost all the time on the Halifax side. It paid off when Aly Stavinski centered a ball into Bailey Bzdak for the first goal at the 8:42 mark.
Not quite 10 minutes later, Bzdak scored again, with an assist from Haley Levan, putting the the Tigers into a nice comfort zone with a 2-0 lead.
"It was good to get that lead," said Bzdak, who now has 24 goals on the season. "At halftime, we talked about them maybe making a comeback like we did last game. In soccer, things like that sometimes just happen."
Not this time, though. Although the Tigers didn't have the success scoring they did in the first half, they kept the pressure on the District 3 champs (21-2), taking nine of their 14 shots after the break. Halifax goalkeeper Brianna Turner picked it up, making eight saves, but the Tigers finally broke through for a 3-0 lead when Mackenzie Clark scored her 20th goal of the season, unassisted, on a fine play just moments after she challenged Turner with a direct kick after a handball call.
That goal took on more importance five minutes later, when Halifax got on the board, finally catching the Tigers' defense drifting a little, with Brianna Rowe scoring off an assist from Kassidy Sonchetti with 18:09 remaining.
But that was as close as it was going to get. The Wildcats never seriously challenged Southern keeper Abby Herr after that, and Southern kept the ball on the Wildcats' side most of the rest of the way.
"We were a little more under control today," Stine said. "Our defense settled back in and did their job. We're getting into big games now and they know where they want to be."
"Our defense really picked it up and we were able to find the back of the net as soon as possible," Bzdak said.
In addition to the defense, midfielder Teanna Shutt was trouble for the Wildcats as well.
"She really controls the middle," Stine said. "She's all over the place. She's that way in practice, so you know you're going to get the same thing in games."
Shutt said Schuylkill Haven taking a 3-0 lead in the previous game was a big factor this time.
"I took that a little personally," she said. "Today we concentrated a little more. This was like the Millville game (for the district title), when we won balls all over the place. Coach told us that if we let them win balls, it (the season) was going to be over."
NOTES: Southern previously reached state semifinals in 1998, 1999 and 2002. ... Southern's District 4 Class A football title game has been moved from Friday to Saturday at 7 p.m,, in case the soccer team reaches the championship final, which will be played Friday in Hershey.
Halifax (21-2) 0 1 - 1
Southern (21-1-1) 2 1 - 3