ROSSMERE — In lieu of the term sudden-death, overtime might be best regarded as a period rife with second chances.
Having tied the Lancaster Catholic Crusaders in their September matchup — which ended in a 1-1 deadlock — the Elco Raiders again took their Section Three foes to overtime Tuesday afternoon, this time coming at the Crusaders’ home field.
But the second chances kept coming for Crusaders’ Izzy Miller Tuesday, with the senior forward scoring the game-winning goal with just 38 seconds left in the extra session, giving Lancaster Catholic a 1-0 victory and dealing the Raiders a crushing blow to their Lancaster-Lebanon league playoff hopes.
“My girls knew the importance of this and you can see their emotion, and mine, too,” said Raiders coach Lisa Kercher. “This is the closest that these girls have ever been to going to league playoffs, and in my coaching career it’s the closest that we’ve been. At the start of our season, we didn’t realize how close we would be.”
“It’s a huge disappointment today, especially the last 38 seconds,” Kercher added. “They (the players) are crying back there, they still are. I wouldn’t want to be with a team that wasn’t upset that they lost tonight...so yeah, I’m super proud of them. They played an awesome game.”
For Miller, meanwhile, the last 38 seconds were all that was left between another tie and a shot at redemption.
“I missed a lot of really easy goals in overtime,” Miller said. “When I got the ball I knew there was less than a minute left. I was like, ‘I want this to be over with.’”
“In overtime, you can’t continue to shut down the same player over and over again,” Kercher said. “It kind of catches up to you.”
Miller’s previous chances in OT included a missed opportunity on a cross, as well as a one-on-one with Elco goalkeeper Kendra Bicksler in which Bicksler (five saves) stepped up and expertly deflected the shot.
Bicksler also stepped up in the second half, redirecting a Crusader penalty stroke with 11:01 left in regulation off her right blocker. The stroke itself was a questionable call, but nevertheless didn’t break the Raiders’ spirit or determination.
“We had a lot of high pressure games this season and it’s not something that Elco is really used to,” Kercher said. “Our goalie did a fantastic job, she shut down so many of their goals and that stroke. She’s really taken on the pressure and done a good job with that.”
Both teams racked up corner opportunities throughout the contest, with Elco having the better of play in the first half. But from the second half on, Catholic held a 14-3 advantage on penalty corners, including 4-1 in overtime.
“We had more shots and more corners in the first half than the second half and they kind of out-cornered us in the second half,” Kercher said. “It kind of goes back to the pressure and the importance of the game.”
Offensively, Elco generated 11 corners overall, eight coming in the first half. But Catholic’s defense limited the Raiders’ to three shots on goal, with keeper Claire Wolfe stopping all three.
The Raiders’ defense did some phenomenal work as well, doubling Miller throughout the contest.
“Their defense is just phenomenal, they stop everything,” Miller said. “Props to them. They played an amazing game. It was really even on both sides.”