Avonworth shut out by Central Columbia in PIAA Class 2A girls soccer final

Friday, November 17, 2023 | 12:35 PM

MECHANICSBURG — Avonworth has more than proven its quality in girls soccer in recent years.

The three-time reigning WPIAL champion, however, found itself matched up against a team that is not just a consistent winner but a consistent state champion in Friday’s PIAA Class 2A championship game.

Central Columbia won its second consecutive state title with a 4-0 victory over the Antelopes at Eagle View Middle School.

Avonworth (22-2-2) was able to generate a few scoring chances in the first half when the contest was still in doubt, including three shots on frame by Fiona Mahan. However, Blue Jays goalie Karsyn Cox was able to stop all of them.

“I think it’s indicative of how they’ve been all year,” Avonworth coach J.C. Mahan said. “Their back line has been good. … We hoped to keep them off the scoresheet because we knew they hadn’t allowed many goals all season, but they got one early.”

Indeed, Central Columbia (24-1) did not allow a goal the whole state tournament. However, the hopes of keeping the Blue Jays off the board disappeared when they took the lead in the 15th minute. Abby Costanza scored with an assist from Kayla Keefer.

That opening goal was set up by a through ball from Haley Bull, who scored the second goal for the Blue Jays. She converted a touch pass from Costanza into her 39th goal of the season to make it 2-0 with 8:57 left in the opening half.

Keefer put the game out of reach with two quick goals in the second half. With 31:25 left to play, she scored on an assist from Bull to make it 3-0. Keefer added an unassisted tally to make it 4-0 with 29:21 on the clock.

Avonworth had allowed just one goal in the first three games of the state tourney, but the Antelopes were not alone in having trouble stopping Keefer. She had 55 goals this season and 140 in her career.

“They make really good runs,” said Mahan, in his 16th year as the Antelope’s head coach. “We were trying to stay in communication on defense, but they were able to take advantage of a couple of opportunities. We haven’t seen that level of talent this year.”

Antelopes goalkeeper Elena Zimmerman finished with six saves. Avonworth had four shots on net and two corners.

Central Columbia had 10 shots and six corners.

This was the Antelopes’ second state final in three years. They lost to Allentown Central Catholic, 2-1, in 2021.

“I think they do understand what they’ve accomplished,” coach Mahan said. “Obviously, it’s disappointing to be on the other side of winning. But I think they know what they’ve done as a senior class. … They’ve had memories to talk about at the 20- and 30-year reunions.”

Central Columbia won last year’s state title with a 4-1 win over General McLane, which Avonworth beat 3-1 in the first round.


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