Lady Little Lion Renee Olivett played less than five minutes in State College’s District 6-10 PIAA Class AAA sub-regional game against Erie McDowell.
However, the limited playing time didn’t stop her from scoring the game-winning goal with six seconds left on the clock, making the final score 10-9.
Olivett had been kept on the sideline for most of the game due to a hamstring injury suffered during Wednesday’s practice. So, when she entered the game with two minutes left everyone was surprised. She was only meant to be put in as a last measure and with a tied game it was an important decision.
While Olivett was on field the team kept the ball on their offensive side of the field. The players kept stringing passes together until the clock was withered down to a mere 30 seconds. State College coach Mark Mahon chose to call a timeout 12 seconds later. On the sideline, he made the game defining call.
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“I wanted to set her (Olivett) up and it was exactly the play we wanted,” he said later.
The play did not go as expected, but the outcome was all the same. After a drive to the goal, Olivett was fouled. This lead to a penalty restart where Olivett was face to face with McDowell’s keeper Kara Olsen. Surprisingly, Olivett wasn’t nervous.
“I knew that this is the opportunity that real athletes hope for,” she said, “and it’s kind of everything you dream of. Everybody’s watching, and it’s the time to win the game.”
And win the game she did, she drove past Olsen with the ball making a line drive to the bottom left corner of the net, just out of Olsen’s reach. Thanks to some rehabilitation and stretching with the school’s athletic trainer after the game, she will be able to play normally in the Lady Little Lions’ next game.
Before Olivett’s winning goal, State College had dominated the entire first half, but was left playing defense in the second.
State College sophomore Brielle Curtis started the game with a goal only 50 seconds after an assist from Caroline Friberg. Friberg scored two more goals, as Curtis added her second. Olivia Stahl had one goal. These six first-half goals were punctuated by a solid defensive effort that left McDowell with only three goals.
The second half started much like the first, but the opposite. McDowell’s Jaida Camino scored in 50 seconds and scored another goal only two minutes later making the game 6-5.
State College was able to maintain the lead until 14:59 when McDowell’s Tina Skely tied the game at 7-7.
Then, with six minutes left, McDowell fired what they thought would be the final nail and defining goal in State College’s coffin. The Lady Trojans took a 9-8 lead thanks in part to Alex Zielinsk.
After finding themselves behind, State College quickly brought back the energy they had left behind in the first half.
However, it still looked as if their season was over, that was until Friberg got the ball. She scored her third goal of the night with 2:37 left on the clock after an assist from Stahl. This led to Olivett stepping onto the field.
During those final seconds, Friberg was confident in all of her teammates abilities.
“We had to bring it, it was really all or nothing in those last thirty seconds, and we brought it,” she said.
At the end of the game, Mahon was pleased with his team’s efforts.
“We pulled it together,” he explained. “We were obviously down a few key players and people stepped up and filled the holes, so that was great.”
The Lady Little Lions will face Mt. Lebannon on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined. Coach Mahon is excited for what’s to come.
“We’re going to face a good Pittsburgh team and we’re going to work hard and get ready,” he said.