There was just one thought going through Abi Pietra's mind during a frantic penalty corner blitz late in Wednesday's regular-season finale against rival West York.
"Just get the ball out and don't let them score," the Kennard-Dale field hockey goalie said.
Pietra and her four defensive teammates had to work hard to do just that. The Bulldogs, down by just a goal, were awarded five penalty corner chances at the end of regulation.
It was all worth it in the end for K-D. West York's chances were dashed by a violation that effectively ended the drawn-out battle between York-Adams Division II heavyweights.
The 3-2 victory for the Rams not only ended the Bulldogs' hope of winning the division title outright, but also forged a complicated three-way tie atop the standings. West York, Kennard-Dale and Susquehannock each finished division play with 6-2 records, but only one of those schools will earn the right to represent Division II in next week's league playoffs. It's uncertain how the tie will be broken.
All of that would have been negated had the Bulldogs, who entered with a 6-1 record, downed Coach Andrea Walton's squad on their home field. The Rams, however, showed resiliency under pressure for a second time during the season.
"It was intense," Walton said. "It was very exciting, but the girls practice this over and over again. They were prepared, stayed strong and did an awesome job."
Nobody was better in the crunch than Pietra, who faced a similar experience earlier in the year during a 1-0 victory over Susquehannock. Pietra twice deflected West York scoring chances inside the crease, when the Bulldogs sent all of their attackers toward the goal.
Pietra also had to battle the realization that the home team scored a goal with 2:40 left in the contest off a penalty corner by Kasey Miner that cut a 3-1 lead in half.
"I was like, 'crap they scored on that last corner and it's going to happen again.' It was just crazy," said Pietra, who finished with eight saves.
The craziness might have tired out others. Whistle after whistle awarded the Bulldogs another chance at scoring the equalizer with no time left on the clock.
Pietra, though, never let her motor slow down.
"Honestly, it wasn't tiring because you have so much adrenaline," she said. "You don't feel tired until the game was over."
Pietra relied on her experience from a few weeks ago, when she was able to snuff out a similarly intense rally by Susquehannock.
"Against Susky it was the same thing," she said. "So it was pretty much the same exact situation."
The showdown, which was the completion of a suspended game played way back on Sept. 12, saw the Rams take the lead on a freak play with 14:59 left in the first half. The visitors slammed a ball on goal that ricocheted high into the net, which typically would have been negated. The referee, however, ruled that the ball skipped off a West York stick, giving Lyndsey Duty credit for the tally.
"It was our obstruction and off of our stick, was how it was explained to us," said West York coach Amanda Steigleman.
Madison Wampler evened up the contest with 19:00 left in the second half for the Bulldogs. The Rams, however, got back-to-back tallies from Taylor Rill at the 9:42 mark and Kayte Fieldler at 5:57 to stake out a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 cushion.
Walton knew better than to feel comfortable at the point.
"That was awesome, but I knew West York was going to push hard," she said.
Even though the Bulldogs weren't able to make a memorable comeback, the fact that they were in a position to win even a share of a division title was a proud fact for Steigleman, the team's first-year coach.
"It speaks just volumes about who these girls are," Steigleman said. "To come from our first two scrimmages, one was like 9-0 and the other was like 10-0, and I was thinking to myself, 'what have I gotten myself into?'
"But we just came out of that like it was nothing. We kind of got together and were like, 'look, we don't like how this feels and we need to be a team.' And from that point on we've just gotten progressively better every game. I'm just so proud of these girls."
Both teams finished with 11 shots on goal, while the Bulldogs had a decided 14-6 edge in penalty corners. Bulldog goalie Chloe Smith finished with six saves, while K-D defender Morgan Day registered two defensive saves in addition to Pietra's eight goalie saves.
OTHER FIELD HOCKEY
NEW OXFORD 4, DELONE CATHOLIC 0: At New Oxford, Sammi Morrow scored twice to lead the Colonials to the win. Julie Noel made 14 saves in a losing cause.
DOVER 2, EASTERN YORK 0: At Wrightsville, Micaela Heffley and Jacquelyn Meacher scored in Dover's victory, while Jill Muir provided an assist.
CORRECTION: The Dallastown field hockey team has won two straight York-Adams Division I titles. The information was incorrectly reported in Wednesday's Dispatch sports section.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.