WILLIAMSPORT—Rachel Hutchison broke for the goal and looked up just in
time as Emma Roe’s pass found her feet.
She lined up her attempt and scored from just inside the box to give
Athens a one-goal lead on Shikellamy. Hutchison was all over the field
for the top seeded Wildcats, who played defense and held Shikellamy for
what appeared to be a District playoff advancing win. It all changed
when Eryn Swanger pushed a ball to the net to equalize Athens’ first
half efforts. Athens proved up to the pressure as a goal from Abby
Sindoni advanced the Wildcats with a 2-1 win over Shikellamy in overtime.
Sindoni caught Shikellamy’s keeper off her line and booted the ball over
her head for the game-winner. It was a goal set up by good vision after
a shot attempt from Hutchison was blocked.
“That is great IQ of the game, and I’d expect nothing less of her,”
Hutchison said. “To perform the way she does for this team is amazing.”
The Wildcats will advance to play Mifflinburg on Saturday at a time and
place to be decided.
Athens struck first when Hutchison collected a feed just inside the
Shikellamy box. Emma Roe, who was warned after a first half collision
with Swanger, pushed a ball through the defense to set up the chance.
Hutchison quickly looked up after slowing the ball and put a shot past
the keeper with a high ball to the middle of the net.
“Everyone was really struggling, but they just gave it their all,”
Hutchison said. “We left it on the field. You can never judge a team or
go into a game thinking you’re going to win.”
Athens had another good chance when Hannah Walker streaked down the
wing, quickly pulled up, and put a hard pass to the feet of Emma Adams,
who collected the ball and sent it to the far post for a crossing
chance. The timing was off by seconds as an Athens forward just missed
the ball before it went out for a goal kick.
“The second half in general was just a different mentality for us,”
Shikellamy coach Angela Sivillo said. “We made some changes on the fly
as far as formation goes to switch it up and create pressure. We did it
to start the half and catch them off guard. It worked to get the goal.”
Swanger got her chance to get back after a frustrating first half that
saw Shikellamy get stopped on three shots at the goal. She beat her mark
and put the shot by the keeper for a game-tying goal.
“It was a momentum changer,” Sivillo said. “We knew we needed that one
just to get us moving and get us back into our game. As soon as she got
that goal, it was a whole different mentality.”
Swanger pressured for the win and nearly gave Shikellamy the go-ahead
goal when she booted a ball up to Madison VanKirk in the 15th minute of
the second half. It produced a deep throw that led to a shot and what
appeared to be a save to give Shikellamy a corner. The official signaled
for a goal kick, and the run came to a stop.
Shikellamy put together a number of chances in front of the net when
Athens defense and keeper failed to control a loose ball in the box.
Swanger put a final shot on goal, but Madisyn Joslyn, who failed to
control the ball moments before the attempt, fell on the shot and
prevented another look for Shikellamy. Swanger also hit the post after
the Athens keeper fell down in the box.
“With it tied up, we were just trying so hard to get that last goal and
close things up,” Sivillo said. “We just got tired, and mistakes
happened. It came back to bite us tonight.”
It was the culmination of a half that was dominated by the Braves, who
controlled the majority of possession while forcing six shots on the
Athens defense. Athens finally let its frustrations show when Ariana
Gambrell was called for a yellow card and sent off with 8:25 remaining
in the regulation.
Athens pressured near the 30-minute mark of the second half half when
Hutchison broke through the defense. She pushed the ball a little long,
and Hannah Persing was quick to pounce. She stepped in front of the ball
and sent it to the sideline to end the threat.
Athens continued to pressure, but a Shikellamy player blocked a shot
attempt before another player booted it up the field for a clear.
“You just have to get into these games and know you’re going to give it
your all,” Hutchison said. “The outcome is going to show with your hard
work. A lot us were nervous and felt the pressure, but we kept calm and
steady and just played our game.”
Athens played with a lot of intensity throughout the game, picking up
eight fouls in the opening 40 minutes alone. The physical play drew a
warning from the officials in the middle of the half, but Athens
continued to play at a high pace before Hutchison scored for a 1-0 lead.