Southern Columbia, Greensburg C.C. will square off for state title
On paper, a matchup between Southern Columbia and Greensburg Central Catholic might seem like a real David-vs.-Goliath deal.
But, if the Tigers have proven anything this season, it's to not count them out.
The defending-champ Centurions and Tigers will tangle at 5 p.m. today at Hersheypark Stadium for the PIAA Class A title. Don't expect the Tigers to be intimidated.
Southern (22-1-1) beat Tulpehocken 1-0, and Greensburg Central Catholic (20-2) beat nemesis Shady Side 2-0 in their semifinal games to reach today's game.
While the semifinal win Tuesday and the ensuing berth in the final are the first in Southern's program history, no one associated with the Tigers thought they played to their full potential.
With a 10-game winning streak and memorable comeback under their belts, the Tigers are ready for anyone.
"I see the girls in the school and they have a confident attitude, but they're not cocky," Southern Columbia head coach Derek Stine said after Tuesday's win.
Temperatures at game time are expected to be up to 20 degress higher than they were Tuesday and the pressure of reaching the finals is now off the Tigers.
"I'm not going to make a prediction, but if we pick it up and play like we have in other games, we're going to be in it," Stine said.
Assistant coaches Frank Fulmer and Jen Stine have been in charge of watching film on Greensburg and writing up a scouting report, but Derek Stine said he knows for a fact the Tigers will start the game the same way they have all season and make changes and adjustments as necessary.
But it would be silly to not pay attention to the Centurions' pair of Division I recruits.
Forward Fran Crouse has 23 goals in the playoffs alone, 64 on the season and is tied with Troy's Caitlin Pratt for the all-time state record with 206 in her career.
It'll be the Tigers' job to keep Crouse tied.
The back end of the Centurions' lineup has a D-I recruit also, although the Tigers have seen their share of big-time recruits in the postseason.
Malea Fabean, who is Pitt-bound, played all season in the midfield, but moved to defense for the semifinal game with Shady Side.
The benefit the Tigers have over the Centurions is that they're battle tested. Greensburg has posted outstanding numbers in double-digit wins, but did lose 4-2 to Shady Side in the WPIAL championship game.
The Tigers, meanwhile, have an understood team rule about not beating teams by double digits and look for opportunities to get the junior varsity players experience.
Still, the Tigers have a host of players who have scored in big moments this season. From Bailey Bzdak, who has 24 goals and 11 assists, to Mackenzie Clark with 18 goals and 11 assists, Haley Levan with 10 goals and 10 assists to the seven other players who have had a goal or an assist in the playoffs, and Southern has more than enough offensive pop.
And guess what, David beat Goliath.
NOTES: The Tigers got inspirational letters before Tuesday's game from their assistant coaches, team managers, six-time state champion football coach and athletic director Jim Roth and others who have come across the team. ... The other state final game on Friday is Mountain View vs. Sewickley Academy in the boys Class A game at 7:30 p.m.