Southern Columbia tops Greensburg C.C. in PIAA Class A final for 2nd straight year

Saturday, November 20, 2021 | 3:30 PM

HERSHEY — Disarmed early and down two goals before it even took a shot, Greensburg Central Catholic could not recover from a coarse start and lost the state girls soccer championship for the second year in a row to Southern Columbia.

GCC (18-3), looking for its third PIAA title, was limited offensively and challenged defensively from the start in a 4-0 loss in the Class A girls soccer final Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.

“It’s not the result we wanted,” GCC coach Olivia Kruger said. “We’re just thankful we got to be here and do it all over again. We have a bunch of girls who worked their freaking (butts) off to get here. It sucks … (Southern Columbia) earned it. They’re a great team. I am not going to stew on it and be upset. I’m proud of our girls.”

Playing with urgency and aggression from the start, just like it did last year, Southern Columbia (19-5) built a 3-0 lead by the half — on three shots — on the way to its third title in four years.

The early hole had GCC a bit shaken.

“We’re young,” Kruger said. “Younger than most people think we are. Maybe that was a little bit of a shock for us. It’s hard to recover from that. When you’re in this type of atmosphere. It’s a big stage to be in; it can be terrifying. It kind of knocked us on our butts a little bit.”

It was 2-0 just six minutes in on a pair of goals from junior Loren Gehret, who continued to give GCC problems.

Gehret had both goals in last year’s final, a 2-1 win for the Tigers, and she played a part in all four scores Saturday.

She opened the scoring just 1 minute, 29 seconds into the match, catching the Centurions off guard. A high, spinning ball found its way to Gehret, who split a pair of defenders and scored on a header.

“Usually when we put in the first goal, it builds our confidence and then we just keep shooting and shooting,” Gehret said. “Applying a lot of pressure to the keeper and to the defense is our main goal. We did that well today.”

Three minutes later, Gehret ripped a left-footed shot from 10 yards away past senior keeper Lyndsey Szekely for a 2-0 lead.

When a GCC defender fell down later in the half, Gehret made the Centurions pay. She took a through ball, waited, and crossed to senior Cassidy Savitski for a three-goal advantage.

“She is hard to gameplan for,” Kruger said of Gehret. “She’s a loaded weapon. We tried to prepare as much as we could for her. There is only so much you can do. Unfortunately, we’re a little low-staffed in comparison to the army they have.”

Said Southern Columbia coach Derek Stine: “(Gehret) can do it all. She has been doing that all year.”

GCC didn’t get its first corner kick until seven minutes into the second half. The Tigers outshot the Centurions, 9-4.

In the 51st minute, Gehret set up another score, this time on a perfectly delivered corner kick to senior defender Summer Tillett to make it 4-0.

“They have other girls that put some away and created just as many lethal opportunities,” Kruger said. “It is what it is.”

GCC failed to generate any breakaway chances and had to work for shots. The Tigers mostly eliminated crosses and kept standouts Sara Felder and Tatum Gretz from doing any damage.

The pair combined for 64 goals this year.

“We knew we had to keep them outside of the middle,” Gehret said. “I thought our defenders did a great job of that, and keeping pressure on them to force mistakes.”

GCC started four freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors. With more experience, the Centurions are hoping to put together another run to Hershey next year.

But maybe they will take a different approach to get there.

“They’re the most physical team we have seen,” Kruger said. “That’s nice to see, actually. You need a little bit of that toughness. Maybe sometimes they need that extra against teams that are going to be that physically demanding. Maybe that is something we can prepare to work on … get that edge and body up on some people. We learned a lot today.”

Gehret is drawing Division I attention and said she plans to make numerous campus visits before deciding on a school.

Of course, she still has another year to try to lead the Tigers to a state three-peat.

“It’s hard to beat a team twice, especially in states,” Gehret said. “Our determination was insane. We wanted to win that game so much, it worked out on our end.

“It’s crazy winning it once. Coming back and winning it all over again, it’s just the best feeling in the world.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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