After accepting its trophy and each player picked up her award, the State College girls’ soccer team posed for a group picture, with each girl holding up seven fingers.
It’s a run that has lasted since every team member was in elementary school.
Thanks to a goal and an assist from Kelly Mejia, and a stellar defensive effort, the Lady Little Lions wrapped up their seventh straight District 6 Class AAA crown with a 2-1 victory over Hollidaysburg on Wednesday night at Bald Eagle Area’s Alumni Stadium.
“We’ve been together for 10 weeks,” coach Kevin Morooney said. “I’m tired, they’re tired and it’s nice to have a feather to put in your cap and walk around for 24 hours and feel good about.”
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Haley Crawford also scored for the Lady Little Lions (12-6-1), and Caitlin Fasnacht made five saves for the win.
State College heads to a PIAA play-in game at 2 p.m. Saturday against an opponent yet to be determined. DuBois and Erie McDowell meet Thursday in the District 9-10 final for the other spot.
Caroline Ellis netted the Hollidaysburg goal.
Mejia can be excused if she doesn’t remember the first of the Lady Little Lions’ run of district titles. She was in fourth grade the last time State College didn’t win the title.
“I didn’t even know about it,” the sophomore said. “I’m extremely happy to be a part of this, to keep it going until I’m a senior too.”
It was almost pure luck that Mejia got the game-winner. She was in the exact right place at the exact right time.
Midway through the second half, Sarah Scott fired a shot from about 15 yards away that rang off the crossbar and bounced almost straight down, with Mejia heading in the rebound from inches away.
“I was definitely going to follow it, and then I saw it hit the crossbar and went down,” Mejia said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is right in front of me.’ I just kind of shoved my body against it and it went in.
“It hit me right in the nose. It was worth it.”
It was all State College needed thanks to its defense. The Lady Little Lions held a 25-10 shot advantage, and there were even fewer quality opportunities for the Lady Tigers.
“It’s very tough when they’re loading the box up,” Hollidaysburg coach Dave Soellner said. “They’re putting all their defenders and they’re not leaving them. I felt we won the ball in the middle, but we’re not pushing everybody up, it’s tough to get through when they have bigger numbers back there.”
The defense was especially tough after halftime.
“In the second half I think we got a little bit more into our rhythm,” Morooney said. “As opposed to having the rhythm dictated to us. In the first half we had one six- or seven-pass sequence that I was happy with, and the rest Hollidaysburg was dictating everything. That’s what we talked about at halftime.”
State College struck first, with Mejia sending a cross into the box for Crawford, who settled the ball, turned to her left and fired the ball past keeper Laura Horne 13:27 into the game.
“I thought I wasn’t going to get it because I took such a weird turn for it,” Mejia said. “It was, like, perfect right to her.”
About 10 minutes later, Hollidaysburg evened the game. After a corner kick, the ball bounced around the box for a few moments before Hannah Madara took the ball out on a wing, sent it back into the middle for Ellis to beat Fasnacht.
“Since it was tied at halftime we were kind of freaking out,” Mejia said. “We really did a lot better in the second half with pressuring and stuff.”