WILLIAMSPORT - East Juniata coach Lori Goodling new that the first goal was probably going to decide the outcome.
"We felt probably that whoever stuck one in was going to be the winner," she said of her team's District 4 Class A girls soccer championship match against Loyalsock on Saturday.
But what Goodling and her coaching staff didn't know going into the match was that neither team would score - at least neither team would score in regulation.
After a scoreless tie in regulation and two overtimes, the match went into penalty shots. Unfortunately for the Tigers, after 110 grueling minutes of highly competitive soccer, Loyalsock outdid East Juniata 4-2 in penalty shots, resulting in a final score of 1-0.
"I know it's heartbreaking for these kids, because they played hard the whole game," Goodling said.
And she was certainly right about the heart with which her girls played. The entire match both teams battled hard for possession of the ball, and each team had its chances to score, but ultimately it came down to penalty shots.
*East Juniata plays Tulpehocken Tuesday in
During those shots, each team chose five different girls to shoot - whichever team ended up with the most out of five won - and Loyalsock went four to East Juniata's two. But East Juniata was doing its best to hang in there.
After Loyalsock's Asia Ungard and Morgan Chambers had scored to go up 2-0, East Juniata's Ashlyn Erhard kicked one to the right side of the net past Loyalsock's diving goalie to put East Juniata on the board. Later in the shots, Kayla Hoke followed Erhard's lead and put East Juniata's second in on the right side of the net to make it 3-2 in Loyalsock's favor.
At that point everything was on the line - if Loyalsock missed its next shot, East Juniata would have one more chance to tie it up for a second round of penalty shots - but Loyalsock's Katy Burdett buried it, giving the Lancers the win.
"No coach wants (a game) to come down in penalty kicks. That doesn't really say much about what happened in the game," Goodling said.
And maybe she was right. With a few key differences for either team, the match could have ended differently.
Game changers for the Tigers included a beautiful shot from Hoke early in the first half which just missed and bounced off the left post. Then in the second overtime it looked like the match was over when Chambers took an outstanding shot, but East Juniata's Zetta Zettlemoyer made an even more outstanding dive to her left to make the save and keep the Tigers in the game.
"I thought that it was a very competitive game, and Zetta kept us in there with a couple big saves. I thought a lot of times we possessed the ball nicely, we just couldn't get anything really dangerous," Goodling said.
But despite the sting of the loss, East Juniata is already looking to the future. On Tuesday, East Juniata (16-4-1) takes on Tulpehocken at 5 p.m. in Hamburg for the first round of the state tournament. Tulpehocken was the 4-0 winner over Lancaster Country Day for Saturday's District 3 Class A championship match.
Goodling hopes that Saturday's match gives her team confidence to see how they can hang with the tough competition.
"I think the last two games should give them a lot of confidence - coming from behind last game, and then just staying with them all (this) game. I think any of the district champs coming out of here they should be able to compete with. They battled the whole game."