---- — By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
HEPBURNVILLE -- A long time has passed since Southern Columbia's girls soccer team last won a District 4 championship -- 11 years to be exact.
In the time since their previous title -- a one-goal shootout win over the Danville Ironmen for the Class AA championship in 2002 -- the Tigers haven't had the best of luck when it comes to playoff time.
A move to Class A several years ago haven't helped Southern's chances, although senior forward Bailey Bzdak is aiming to change all of that for the Tigers.
Bzdak scored a goal and assisted on two others to lead Southern to a 3-0 victory over Troy in a Class A semifinal game Tuesday at the Balls Mills Soccer Complex.
Southern (18-1-1) will get a chance to break that drought when it plays Millville, a 4-0 winner over South Williamsport, in the District 4 final on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Balls Mills.
"It feels really good (to advance to the finals). From losing last year to Loyalsock (1-0 in the semifinals) and getting kicked out in all the years previous, it's kind of nice this year for us to change that," said Bzdak. "If we end up playing Millville, at least we've seen them in the regular season so we know what to epect."
Southern won that regular season contest with Millville, 5-1.
The Tigers jumped on the Trojans early with a pair of goals in the opening 8 minutes and 38 seconds. Aly Stavinski and Haley Levan tallied the goals, both of which came off Bzdak assists less than a minute apart.
"Normally, we're not a team that comes out right away (and scores), so it was nice to come out and have an early lead so that we can relax ourselves and just calm down," said Bzdak. "It was kind of frustrating that we couldn't put any more in, but at least we got it done early because if you get shut down later and you can't (score the goals), at least you get them in the beginning.
"Assists are always good. I like to get them because it shows that you were working (as a team)," said Bzdak. "Obviously, you're usually not going to get a goal without an assist."
Southern fired 17 shots on Troy (16-5) goalkeeper Taylor Johnston in the first half, with no less than seven different girls taking at least one shot apiece on goal in the opening half of play.
After all of those shots it seemed like the Tigers would only get those two goals, but Bzdak made it 3-0 with 2:15 left to play in the first half when she cleaned up a loose ball in front of the net.
"That (goal) was pretty big. A (2-0 lead) is a good lead, but if Troy gets one goal you're at a one-goal difference again," said Bzdak. "To get that third goal is definitely comforting. It was just off a corner and we were in front of the box. The ball bounced off a couple of people and I was the last to get it and touch it in."
Southern finished its dominating performance with 33 shots and 11 corner kicks, and sophomore goalkeeper Abbey Herr only needed to make one save to get the shutout for the Tigers.
Herr's counterpart, Taylor Johnston, kept the score from being much worse by making 18 saves for Troy, which was held to a single shot and one corner in the entire game.
"Anything high (Taylor) was stopping. She's very good in the air," said Southern coach Derek Stine. "We had a lot of shots, but they weren't hard shots, and we were a little soft tonight as far as the shooting goes.
"A win is a win and we made it to the district final. We haven't been there since 2002, so that kind of feels pretty good," added Stine.