Fox Chapel midfielder Kate Goodwin watched as her shot skipped through the legs of State College goalie Caroline Kranich before lifting her arms. She turned to her right, as her teammates waited a brief second before bearhugging the junior in celebration.
Meanwhile, the State College girls’ lacrosse bench went silent.
Fox Chapel completed an improbable comeback — and the Lady Little Lions were left stunned.
State College fell to the Foxes 10-9 in overtime on Tuesday night at Cumberland Valley High School’s Toyota Field in the first round of the PIAA Class 3A playoffs. Fox Chapel (21-1) advances to the face Downingtown East in the second round, while the season for the Lady Little Lions (8-9) is over.
“We had to make sure to hold our heads high,” State College assistant coach Whitaker Willocks said, her hood shielding her from the torrential rain. “They have nothing to be down about. That outcome, I mean, they did everything they could.”
State College featured six different scorers in a game it commanded most of the way. Brielle Curtis, Carissa Tambroni and Erika Lose all had two goals, while Caroline Paterno, Kristina Hughes and Sophie Brandimarte found the back of the net, as well.
Goodwin and Meg McCrady led the way for Fox Chapel, scoring three goals apiece and guiding the Foxes’ offense to a dramatic win.
McCrady, a senior standout committed to Georgetown University, found the net her final time with a little more than six minutes left in regulation. The goal cut State College’s lead to 8-7.
The Lady Little Lions responded, though, as Brandimarte beat the goalie with 5:17 to go. State College held a 9-7 advantage and started playing a little keep-away, bleeding the clock down.
Four minutes left.
It looked like the Lady Little Lions were off to the PIAA second round.
But the Foxes pressed to regain possession, and State College obliged.
“We were up two, but you could feel them pushing,” Curtis said. “You could feel that on the field.”
It resulted in a goal by senior attacker Mikayla D’Cunha, assisted by McCrady, with 1:49 to go.
State College called timeout with a 9-8 advantage. Willocks, head coach Megan Wagner and the staff wanted to remind the Lady Little Lions of something.
“The biggest thing for them was to have confidence in themselves and believe in themselves. Believe in their sticks. Believe in their passing. Believe in their shot. Believe in each other,” Willocks said. “When it comes down to it in a high-pressure situation and there’s 1 minute, 40 seconds left on the clock — and we’re up — it comes down to who has more confidence in themselves. Who can handle the pressure? We believed in our girls. We believed in them every second of the way.”
But Fox Chapel believed, too.
The Foxes won the draw after the timeout and tied the game 27 seconds later. Kranich, a freshman in net for State College, was picked off, and Fox Chapel’s Ali Wessel finished a relatively easy goal.
“Just a couple of balls didn’t bounce our way,” Wagner said.
The Foxes didn’t take long to finish their comeback in the three-minute, sudden-death overtime period. Ninety seconds in, Goodwin slotted one home from a distant free position attempt, ending State College’s campaign.
The Lady Little Lions left the soaked turf at Toyota Field dejected and frustrated. They had a two-goal lead with the next round in-sight.
But State College’s late-game mistakes didn’t take away from what the team accomplished in 2017.
At least, not to Wagner.
“They’re an incredible group of girls that worked really hard on playing as a unit,” Wagner said. “That’s what they did. That’s what got them this far. … It’s just an awesome group of girls. A great group.”