Related:A look back at the YAIAA tournament and division winners since 1992.
The saves came in succession, each bringing the Dallastown field hockey team closer to the title they had coveted all season. Wildcats goalkeeper Niki Bream dove right to make the first stop. Then she batted away a shot at her eyes. Then she dove to the left again.
Finally, Bream went to the ground to make one more stop, the final act of her team's thrilling, penalty-stroke victory against Red Lion in the YAIAA field hockey championship game Thursday at Spring Grove's Papermakers Stadium. After the two teams played to a 2-2 tie through regulation and two overtimes, Dallastown won the shootout, 2-0.
Bream stopped all five penalty strokes she saw to hand the Wildcats (19-0-1) their first league title since the tournament's inception three years ago. But that was only after a wild affair packed with goals, momentum swings and a much-debated penalty call which allowed Dallastown to tie the contest with 1:19 left in regulation.
In the end, it came down to the most basic of set-ups: A shooter and goalkeeper, one-on-one, 6 yards apart.
Bream did not budge. After her final save, her teammates swarmed around her.
"The feeling was amazing, just seeing them all come at me," Bream said. "We practice (penalty strokes) a lot. I'm comfortable with them, but they're still very nerve-wracking."
The Wildcats' victory ended the Lions' two-year run as tournament champions.
For all Bream's heroics, the flashpoint of the game remained that penalty call late in the second half. During a scrum 10 yards in front of the cage, Red Lion goalie Gabi Uberti was ruled to have pushed a Wildcats player.
"My team was doing what they had to do, stepping up to the ball," Red Lion coach Carol Gillmen said. "We had the lead, there was a minute to go. You tell your team to go to the ball and play the ball, and that's all we did. There was no foul.
"Obviously the officials had a hand in the outcome of this game. That's my feelings. I was very proud of my team and our effort."
On the ensuing penalty stroke, Dallastown sophomore Haylee Anders flicked her shot past back-up goalie Jess Everett to tie the match at 2.
Dallastown coach Jeri Myers tabbed Anders for the penalty instead of the Wildcats' using stroke-taker, Hope Kohlbus. The coach's reasoning was simple.
"We do strokes before every game," Myers said. "I always ask who's our best stroker for the day. Usually it's Hope. Today they said Haylee."
In the end, Dallastown had an ace-in-the-hole in Bream. The junior took over the Wildcats' goalie position as a freshman. That year, she let in the winning goal during Dallastown's 2-1, overtime loss to Red Lion in the 2010 league championship.
Consider this a bit of redemption.
"Niki has now been on both sides of it," Myers said. "In two years she's become an awesome keeper."
"She stops everything," Anders added.
Bream opened the shootout by stopping Red Lion standout Ali Posey's first penalty-stroke attempt. Anders then converted her second stroke of the night to put the Wildcats ahead for good.
Posey opened the scoring 9:25 before halftime and also assisted on Hailey Orwig's goal 10 minutes into the second half - the latter of which made the score 2-1. Before Thursday, Dallastown had only allowed one league goal all season.
Taylor Kline added a goal for the Wildcats late in the first half.
"I think this was the most intense game I've been in," Bream said. "It's like the greatest feeling ever."
DALLASTOWN 2, RED LION 2
Red Lion -- 1 1 0 0 -- 2
Dallastown -- 1 1 0 0 -- 2
Dallastown wins penalty stroke shootout, 2-0
First Half -- 1. RL, Ali Posey, 9:25; 2. Dt, Taylor Kline (Bryna Cook), 4:15.
Second Half -- 3. RL, Hailey Orwig (Posey), 20:04, 4. Dt, Haylee Anders (penalty stroke), 1:19.
Penalty strokes -- RL, Posey (NG); Dt, Anders (G); RL, Alexa Taylor (NG); Dt, Hope Kohlbus (NG); RL, Alyssa Castle (NG); Dt, Cook (G); RL, Paige Taylor (NG); Dt, Molly Childress (NG); RL, Orwig (NG).
Shots On Goal -- RL 7, Dt 13.
Corners -- RL 14, Dt 20.
Goalies -- Red Lion, Gabi Uberti (10 saves), Jess Everett (1 save); Dallastown, Niki Bream (5 saves).