YORK SPRINGS — As an outside back, Katie Lundy doesn't get many chances to move forward with an opportunity to score.
So, when the opportunity arises, she doesn't really care how she scores, she's just happy when she does.
On Thursday night, Oct. 19, in the York-Adams League girls' soccer championship game, Lundy found herself with one of those rare scoring opportunities. While it was from long range, she had to take it, and it proved to be the difference.
Standing about 25 yards away from the Northeastern goal on the right side of the field, Lundy got the ball at her feet and unleashed a screamer of a shot. Always threatening, it just evaded Bobcats' keeper Rachel Reeser, leading to the only goal of the night, giving the Panthers the 1-0 victory to help them repeat as league champions.
"There was a lot of space on the outside because our center-mid had the ball on their outside wing tucked in," Lundy said. "So, she played a great ball out to me, I got a touch and hit it."
The goal came with 14 minutes, 18 seconds to play in the game, leaving Northeastern with little time to find an equalizer.
As it had done all game long, the Central York defense held strong and didn't really allow the Bobcats with a clean look to tie the game.
Lundy's goal helped the Panthers live up to the pressure that was on them as the tournament's top seed after winning as underdogs a year ago.
"Last year, we weren't the favorite going in, but we found our rhythm," Central head coach Eric Webb said. "This year, it just kind of felt like all year long we were the team to beat and that sort of pressure is a different sort of pressure and a different sort of difficult."
Tight, physical contest: In a game that pitted two Division I rivals against each other, it played out pretty much as expected.
It was a tight, physical game with very few chances created from either side. For a team such as Northeastern, which has been offensively challenged all season, that was the type of game it was hoping to play. Webb, meanwhile, would've liked to see a little more creativity out of his side, but he also knew a grind-it-out type of performance was going to be needed against the Bobcats' stout defense.
Bre Sgrignoli had perhaps the best chance in the first half early in the game, when she got behind the Northeastern defense and found herself in alone on the goal. However, a nice save by Reeser on a low drive prevented Central from going in front early.
Later in the first half, the Bobcats had a solid chance off a corner cleared off the line by a Panther defender, keeping the game scoreless going into halftime.
There were few strong chances to begin the second half and it looked like the game was destined for extra time. Central knew that, because Northeastern didn't have many scoring threats up top, it could free up players at the back to get more forward. That allowed players such as Lundy to get further up the field, leading to her goal that ultimately broke the Bobcats' defense.
"In girls' soccer, it's that perfect bomb or long kick that just dips under the crossbar and over the keeper," Northeastern coach Diana Collier said. "Obviously, it takes a little bit of skill to put it where you want, but also a little bit of luck at the same time."
It was a very even match, with Central holding an 11-8 advantage in shots, while both keepers, Reeser and the Panthers' Rachel Szczypinski, made five saves.
On to districts: Both teams will head into the district playoffs, but, only one could enter districts still riding a wave of winning momentum and that will be Central.
"I think things are different heading into districts if you lose," Webb said. "Things have been not easy for us all year, but we've found a way to win, game after game, kind of like this. Like, it wasn't easy, but we found a way to win. ... We're on a little bit of a roll again heading into districts and hopefully this momentum stays with us for a little bit."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org.