One person was on the minds of the girls huddled to celebrate their YAIAA girls' soccer championship.
Dover had just accomplished its repeat, a 2-1 victory against rival Northeastern and its goalie, who shot after shot rarely let the ball get past her. The Eagles kept kicking because that is what Maddie would do. It's what she is doing.
Maddie Hill would have been out there celebrating with Maxine Herman after her winning goal just 48 seconds into overtime Thursday night at Susquehannock High School. Hill was on the field last year as a sophomore, when Dover won its first league tournament title. Her spirit remained there again despite missing her junior season because of her second battle with leukemia that has her in the hospital.
"To me, I played for her tonight," said Herman, a senior who has been one of the catalysts in Dover's two-year run.
Herman has known Hill since their early elementary school years when they played youth soccer. Before the season began, Herman and her teammates learned something was wrong. Hill was able to watch but not play in the summer before the season. Since then, she has not been able to attend school. Dover has held fundraising campaigns including "Fight like Hill" shirts to provide some support.
"We've just been playing for her because we know if she were out here, she'd be giving 100 percent," Herman said. "She always does. She's a fighter."
All 18 times Hill's teammates stepped onto a soccer field this season, they won. Thoughts of her soon set in for Herman after her goal, and again after taking the brunt of a postgame water dousing meant for coach Bret Altimore.
"We draw so much inspiration from her," Altimore said of Hill. "It's a part of the motivating factor, as far as reminding ourselves every day is a gift; and getting to play this game. We long for the day she can come back and play with us."
His team constantly created scoring opportunities against Northeastern (14-4). Unlike the first two times against the Bobcats, when Dover scored 6-0 and 4-2 wins, those chances did not manufacture goals.
A wall dressed in orange, sophomore goalie Brenna Schroter, was in the Eagles' way. The only time she did not stop a Dover scoring attempt throughout regulation was on a corner kick. In fact, it was the corner kick from Eagles sophomore Maddy Miller that arched past Schroter and into the back of the net with about 26 minutes left in the first half.
"I know I can bend it in because it was an in-swinger," said the right-footed Miller, who kicked from the left side of the field. "I didn't really see it go in because the lights were in my way, but I saw it drop and hit the net."
Miller's corner kick tied the score at one, and it stayed that way. Even all the easier scoring attempts were denied by Schroter, who finished with 18 saves.
Dover's opportunities started to dwindle in the second half with seven shots on goal, but it still controlled the ball.
"Statistically, if you look at it, the games have been the same, talking shots and possession," said Altimore, whose team will face Northeastern a fourth time Tuesday in a district playoff game. "But their keeper gave a phenomenal effort. Of course Logan Neiman is an incredible player. Anytime she has the ball at her feet, she's dangerous."
Instead of Neiman, junior Coryn Moyer gave Northeastern a 1-0 lead off a corner kick almost 12 minutes into the match. It provided Dover with a dose of adversity. Two minutes later, Miller's corner tied the score.
Throughout the night, Schroter stopped kicks fired by Herman and teammates from as close as 15 yards out.
Each time, Northeastern gained a little confidence and started to control the ball a little more for itself.
Then, with overtime, Herman found the right angle and a kick that connected with the back right portion of the net. It was not too far from where Miller scored earlier in the night, and both were the spots needed to help Dover repeat.
Dover 2, Northeastern 1 (OT)
Northeastern 1 0 0 -- 1
Dover 1 0 1 -- 2
First half -- 1. Ne, Coryn Moyer, 28:05. 2. Dov, Maddy Miller, 26:06.
Overtime -- 3. Maxine Herman, 14:12.
Shots on goal -- Ne 6, Dov 20.
Corners -- Ne 3, Dov 6.
Goalies -- Ne, Brenna Schroter (18 saves). Dov, Marcie Gerrick (5 saves).