EMMAUS — As Mallory Lefkowitz's Wyoming Seminary teammates bombarded her after her strike found the back of the cage with nine minutes remaining in the first overtime period of Saturday's PIAA-AA quarterfinal, Upper Perkiomen went through a mix of emotions.
Morgan Aldinger heaved her stick out of bounds. Maddie Fox stood at the top of the circle, head hung with a bleak expression on her face.
The rest of the Tribe just watched.
They watched Lefkowitz jump up and down three times looking for someone to hug.
They watched the Blue Knights rush the field, elated with a victory that they snatched from the Tribe's clutches.
They watched the Memorial Field scoreboard flash 4-3 right before it shut off.
It was over. Their season had hit the switch.
In the words of Upper Perkiomen head coach Jamie Warren, "This game was just not meant for us.'
"Tough way to end but unfortunately when you get to this level of play overtime can kill you,' she said.
A green card issued for chattering to both Casey Umstead and Wyoming Seminary's Rebecca Schulman prompted ire from both benches, and without the team's leading goal scorer, the Tribe wasn't able to keep Lefkowitz at bay in the overtime period. Following a restart, Lefkowitz took the ball 25 yards and sent it past goalkeeper Hannah Mack who was sliding out to try and defend the shot — a similar move she made in successfully saving two shots in the team's last game against Donegal.
"It (the game-winning goal) feels great,' Lefkowitz said. "This will be my last time in states so I just want to keep them going. Especially for our juniors, let's end on a good note.'
"I thought it was a well-played game,' Warren said. "I thought we were able to do a lot and play a nice game of hockey with a very skilled team. They've got a long history of states and sometimes that can play to your advantage.'
Wyoming Seminary's track record is vast mainly because of longtime head coach Karen Klassner. Throughout the years, Klassner and the Blue Knights have won six state championships (the last coming in 2011), six district championships, ten league championships and twenty-six district playoff appearances. However, the regular season, according to Lefkowitz, spelled some problems before the Blue Knights (16-6-1) were able to adjust in time for districts and states.
"We had a tough time in the regular season but we always know to step it up in states. I think everyone is doing a good job of that.'
Umstead was the ever-relying presence for the Tribe as she accounted for two of the Tribe's goals, giving her 51 for the season. Both goals came in the early moments of each half as the senior forward sent the ball to the back of the cage at the seven minute mark in the first half and the 1:30 mark in the second half. On her second goal, Umstead worked into the right of the circle before unleashing a rocket past Blue Knights' goalkeeper Mackenzie Gagliardi.
"It's a blessing to have a player that can score that many goals,' Warren said of Umstead, a UConn recruit.
Yet, Wyoming Seminary kept chipping away at the deficit. Facing a 1-0 hole, Lefkowitz made sure that the Blue Knight's constant first half pressure paid off as she worked to the middle of the circle before letting one go past Mack. Facing a 2-1 disadvantage, Schulman was there after a mad scramble in front to put home the rebound past Mack to knot the game with 17 minutes remaining.
The Tribe answered three minutes later. With the two-man advantage (due to a green card on Schulman, and yellow card on Alexis Quick), Natalie Ciuta took a pass from Umstead and rocketed a blast from the top of the circle. The ball ricocheted off two Wyoming Seminary defenders and trickled its way past a stunned Gagliardi to give the Tribe the 3-2 lead.
Jenna Caciolo, who the goal was credited to, was between the two Blue Knights' defenders when Ciuta's shot went through the slew of traffic.
But with 1:29 left in regulation, the Blue Knights did what they had done twice before — and answered the bell. Quick was the benefactor of a few bounces as she took a rebound off a Morgan Malone shot and sent it in from the left of the cage to send the game into overtime setting the stage for Lefkowitz's heroics.
For Upper Perkiomen, their season comes to an end but not before a series of firsts. Their preseason checklist received a perfect score as they captured the PAC-10 championship, notched their first victory over Villa Maria, and captured their first district title since 2006 and advanced past the PIAA first round since its last district title.
"We played hard today,' Warren said. "Our seniors were a great class to work with. They never quit and they gave up.
"I'm proud of them.'
Follow Sam Stewart on Twitter @Samuel_Stewart7.