In the 1970’s, Southern Columbia’s field hockey team came one win from a PIAA Championship. In 2013, both the softball and girls soccer teams made it to the final game, but ended with the silver. This year’s girls soccer team finally got over that final hump to show the state that the female athletic programs can win that final game, too, and claim the gold. “It is hard to describe the feeling of when we won the game. There are so many emotions that you feel at the same time. It was just crazy of how it played out,” said senior Jill Marks. “We couldn’t ask for a better ending, that’s for sure.”
Girls soccer, now joins the wrestling and baseball programs at Southern Columbia as state champions. “The football team has won so many state championships, and we knew how much excitement that they bring the community. It was great being able to finally win one in girls soccer too,” senior Kari Cambria said. Obviously, there is a fourth athletic program that has set the standard at the school as they seem to make an annual trip to the final game. The soccer team didn’t go out and dominate all of their opponents, but they found a way to get the job done.
“We are like a family and we trust each other. We had confidence that each girl on the field was going to do what they needed to do. Our seniors were great leaders for the rest of us,” said junior Gina Gratti.
Here is a look at how the team captured that first ever female crown:
Game 1: Bloomsburg
SCA got a chance to beat the defending District 4 1A champions to kick off the season. Rilyn Wisloski posted a shutout in her first career start as the goalie. Morgan Marks scored off an assist from Morgan Cole in the first half to give the Lady Tigers a 1-0 win.
Game 2: Lake Lehman
On a Saturday afternoon, the Tigers dominated the Knights. On the SCA turf, freshman Riley Reed scored her first career goal. Maggie Morrison added one of the goals as well as two assists in the 5-1 victory.
Game 3: Loyalsock
The Tigers got a pair of goals in each half which proved to be more than enough. Southern’s defense didn’t allow a single Lancers shot on goal as the Tigers cruised to a 4-0 win. Kari Cambria had three assists and scored the other.
Game 4: Hughesville
Leading 1-0 at the half, the Tigers added three more in the second half to bring home a fourth victory by a score of 4-1. Morgan Marks had two second half assists against the Spartans.
Game 5: South Williamsport
A matchup between two unbeatens went in favor of the Mounties. The game was scoreless at halftime, but South Williamsport scored the lone goal in the second half to win 1-0.
Game 6: Mount Carmel
The Tigers first road game of the season was against a young Mount Carmel squad. The Red Tornadoes were no match for the Tigers. Highlighted by junior Emma Rosko’s first career goal, SCA cruised to a 7-1 win.
Game 7: Central Columbia
Southern held a 3-2 lead at halftime, but their cross-county opponent tied it in the second half. The Blue Jays went on to win 4-3 in overtime.
Game 8: Bloomsburg
A rematch from the season-opener was again a battle. For the second consecutive game, the Tigers went to overtime against a local opponent. The game ended in a 2-2 tie as all four goals were scored in the first half.
Game 9: Mifflinburg
Derek Stine’s team made sure to not play extended time for the third straight game as they beat the Wildcats 4-0. Rilyn Wisloski recorded six saves in the shutout.
Game 10: Montoursville
Morgan Marks scored the game-winner in the second half off an assist from Tori Romania. The Tigers won the road-test by a 1-0 final in a game that was controlled by the defense.
Game 11: Benton
A battle of the Tigers was a revenge game for Southern Columbia. Benton had defeated SCA in each of the last two seasons, but Southern won this time 5-0 with Jill Marks scoring two goals.
Game 12: Loyalsock
Southern completed the season-sweep over the Lancers thanks in large part to the advantage in corner kicks. Maggie Morrison scored twice as the Tigers won 4-1
Game 13: Mount Carmel
SCA’s tenth win of the year came against the Red Tornadoes. Behind Maggie Morrison’s two goals and an assist, the Tigers won 6-1.
Game 14: South Williamsport
The Tigers got revenge by beating the Mounties in this rematch. Kari Cambria assisted Tori Romania for a second half goal as Southern won 1-0. “That was a nice win because they were the first team to beat us in the season. I think that was a real confidence booster,” said Cambria.
Game 15: Midd-West
Southern won a Saturday night home game against a Mustang squad that was hit with graduation hard entering the year. The Tigers took advantage by winning 5-2.
Game 16: East Juniata
SCA hit the road for their trip to McAllisterville to battle with their rival from East Juniata who knocked the Tigers out of playoffs two years prior. East Juniata, however, won this game 1-0.
Game 17: Hughesville
Kari Cambria scored both Tigers goals in a 2-1 win. The game was tied 1-1 at the half before Maggie Morrison assisted Cambria for the game-winner.
Game 18: Danville
The Tigers ended their regular season with a road loss at Danville. The Ironmen beat a Tiger team that won PHAC Division III by a score of 3-1
Game 19: Bloomsburg
Southern started off their playoff run with their season in jeopardy at the half. “We needed to stay positive. All of us that are seniors didn’t want our season and career to end like that. The past couple of years were disappointing, so we needed to change the outcome,” said Morgan Cole.
The Panthers were leading 1-0, but the Tigers got goals in the second half from Morgan Marks, Kari Cambria, and Maggie Morrison to advance 3-2.
Game 20: South Williamsport
In the District 4 Class 1A semifinals, the Tigers and Mounties were scoreless at halftime. In the third and final matchup of the season, SCA won the most important one. “Both of our regular season games were 1-0 finals. With each team winning one, it came down to which team was going to move to the championships in the third game,” Maggie Morrison said. Senior defender Sami Palacz scored the only goal of the game on a penalty kick for the Tigers 1-0 victory.
Game 21: East Juniata
The SCA Tigers had a chip on the shoulder coming in to the matchup with the East Juniata Tigers who beat Southern less than three weeks prior. The black and gold Tigers went on to win their first District 4 Class 1A gold in five years. Senior Caitlyn Lichtel scored the game-winner in the 3-2 triumphant win.
“It was a great moment. I was so happy and everyone on the whole team was excited. We finally got that district title and it made it better as a senior,” said Lichtel.
Game 22: Moravian Academy
To start off the PIAA Class 1A State Playoffs, the Tigers rolled past the Lions. The District 11 champions weren’t able to get a shot in the net, but SCA scored five times. Behind two goals from Morgan Marks, and a Rilyn Wisloski shutout in net, the Tigers advanced 5-0. “It was our first experience playing in the state playoffs and we wanted to make it a positive one by going out and doing the best that we could. We knew we needed to play with a lot of energy,” said Morgan Marks.
Game 23: Montrose
Southern matched up with District 2’s champion on a windy Saturday afternoon. The Tigers beat the Meteors 3-0 to advance to the Eastern Final. Carly Britch, a senior defender, scored her first career goal as fellow defender Gina Gratti ruined some of the Montrose scoring chances. “Our defense knew that we had to put in our best efforts and connect with our midfielders and forwards to win the game,” said Britch. “As seniors, it drove our determination throughout that game and the rest of the postseason. We played our hearts out and left it all on the field.”
Game 24: East Juniata
For the third time on the season, and second in ten days, the battle between the Tigers would decide who would advance to Hershey to play for the state gold. SCA’s Karly Renn shined the brightest.
“I didn’t have to do much work to set up the goals. I have to thank my teammates for that. The best moment of the game wasn’t either goal though. It was when the clock finally hit zero showing that we won,” Renn said.
The sophomore scored two first-half goals to lead the team to a 2-1 victory. The win was the second time in program history that they would advance to the final.
Game 25: Freedom Area
In a game that Southern Columbia didn’t lead for a single second, it was the Tigers that came out victorious as the PIAA Class 1A State Champions. Freedom Area, out of District 7, took a 1-0 lead to the half. Morgan Marks tied it in the second half until the Bulldogs scored again. With time winding down, Maggie Morrison placed a shot perfectly over the goalkeeper’s arms to send the game in to overtime. With the score tied at 2-2 just a few minutes in to extra time, Sami Palacz collected a scramble in front of the net off a Jill Marks’ header, and kicked it in to give the Tigers their first PIAA gold in dramatic fashion 3-2.
“The ball just came in front of me and I kicked it to the back of the net. Then the next thing I knew we were celebrating. It all happened so fast. It’s a crazy feeling that we won that way,” Palacz said. “We were all jumping up and down just in shock at first then after a few moments we realized what we did.”