Bedford girls heading to state finals for first time
SOMERSET — Somehow, the chill wasn’t so bad. On a night when snow and wind made for a miserable setting at Somerset High School, the Bedford Bisons remained hot.
Bedford and South Park played a classic in freezing conditions on Tuesday night in the PIAA Class 2A girls soccer semifinals, with the the Bisons finally coming away with a victory.
Taylor Downs fired a high shot past South Park goalkeeper Ali Miklos to lift the Bisons to a 5-4 advantage in a penalty shootout after the teams had played to a 2-2 tie through two regulation halves and two overtimes.
“Excited,” Bedford coach Jeff Thomas said when asked what his first thought was when he realized the marathon game had ended.
But, coach, your team just defeated the WPIAL champion and is headed to a state championship game for the first time in school history.
The usually subdued Thomas got a wide smile on his face before finally showing a bit of emotion.
“It’s a great feeling for these kids, man. They deserve it,” he said. “They’ve worked hard ever since last year. Nonstop.”
District 5 champion Bedford (21-0) will meet District 4 runner-up Lewisburg (13-8-3) in the PIAA-2A title game at 11 a.m Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey.
Lewisburg defeated District 3 runner-up Boiling Springs, 1-0, earlier on Tuesday in the other Class 2A semifinal at Hamburg High School.
Bedford and South Park (21-3) connected on their first four penalty kicks each before Bedford goalkeeper Lindsay Mowry stopped Nicole Clydesdale’s shot on South Park’s fifth attempt, paving the way for Downs’ game-winning tally.
“I’m proud of our effort,” South Park coach Shelly Thropp said. “It’s tough to lose.”
Following a scoreless first half, Taylor Glowa and Haleigh Finale scored second-half goals for South Park to force overtime after Bedford opened the period with a pair of goals.
Amber Thomas got credit for the first at the 37:17 mark on a shot that deflected off South Park’s Grace Albitz and into the net past Miklos.
Robyn Casalena made it 2-0 six minutes later.
“It’s hard to come back from 2-0. I’m happy that we did,” Thropp said. “We made a few changes after the first half and they worked, so we stuck with it through the overtimes. Thought we could have gotten a third (goal). We had some opportunities to get a third, but unfortunately the shootout didn’t go our way.”
While Jeff Thomas shivered, like everyone else on the field, Bedford’s players rejoiced on the other side of the turf as the cold water droplets glistened in the lighting.
Thomas didn’t care that it was freezing outside. His team warmed the hearts of its loyal fans, who mingled with their favorite players long after the conclusion of the game.
“It’s a long time coming,” Thomas said. “Hopefully, they get on the bus and ride over to Hershey. We’ve been here in the semis four times. We finally got over the hump.”
SCORE BY HALVES
South Park 0 2 0 0–2
Bedford 0 2 0 0–2
First half: No scoring.
Second half: B: Amber Thomas (unassisted), 37:17. B: Robyn Casalena (Juliana Taylor), 31:06. SP: Taylor Glowa (unassisted), 19:27. SP: Haleigh Finale (unassisted), 9:19.
First overtime: No scoring.
Second overtime: No scoring.
Penalty kicks: B: Jenna Brown, Amber Thomas, Bailey Donaldson, Jordan Brown, Taylor Downs; SP: Taylor Glowa, Cassidy Zandier, Avery Miklos, Haleigh Finale.