Susquehannock senior Timmy Wilson grew more nervous as he approached the ball Thursday night.
Three teammates had already made their penalty kicks, and if he converted his, the eighth-seeded Warriors would beat No. 1 Gettysburg in their District 3-AA quarterfinal. He prayed and smiled.
Wilson then provided the winning margin in a 0-0 game that Susquehannock won 4-2 on penalty kicks. The Warriors advance to face Oley Valley at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Hersheypark Stadium.
The victory comes after Wilson's senior season was in doubt. In a preseason game, he jumped for a header and landed awkwardly on his left leg, tearing the meniscus in his left knee.
He was heartbroken when the doctor said he needed surgery. But he wasn't about to give up on playing.
"I just worked my (butt) off in the training room," Wilson said. "I was trying to get back on the field. I didn't want to miss my senior season."
Gaining movement and breaking through scar tissue isn't easy. He admits the rehabilitation was painful. But he managed to return two weeks ago, about three weeks before doctors estimated he would.
His injury was one of many for Susquehannock (14-5-2). The Warriors, coach Brett Maxwell said, lost right midfielder Andrew Sweigard for about half the season and are still missing another player.
"Until Timmy came back, we had at least two of our best six, seven players out every game," Maxwell said. "Didn't quite have the season we expected. But we knew with the players we had, we were moving in the right direction. We don't think we've peaked yet. We're getting toward that level."
They're already at a good enough level to upset Gettysburg (16-2-0), which lost in the quarterfinals to the eighth-seeded team as the top seed in the district tournament for the second consecutive year.
"Last year was different than this year," Gettysburg coach Scott Hancock said. "Last year, we should have won, and we knew that. This year, it was a good team."
Neither team showed a major advantage in regulation, not scoring for 110 minutes. Both had four shots, and Gettysburg goalkeeper Michael Heeschen led Susquehannock's Mike Jones in saves just 3-2.
Gettysburg missed an excellent opportunity when leading scorer Jon Tarbox collected a loose ball in front of the goal but shot high in the second half.
The 0-0 score after two 15-minute overtime periods forced penalty kicks, which started with Jones stopping Heeschen. Susquehannock's Nathan Bilbie made the team's first penalty kick, and teammates Ryan Chilcoat and Duncan Mitchell followed.
When Jones stopped Gettysburg's fourth attempt, that set up Wilson's shot for an upset.
"All respect goes to Mike Jones," Wilson said. "We won because of him. I just finished it off for us."