By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG -- Alexis Reid had a game-winning goal on her stick -- a district playoff winner in overtime, no less -- and she knew it.
Problem was, with Midd-West keeper Mikayla Freed sprawled on the ground in front of her, Reid had to create space for a shot. So the Shikellamy senior wheeled around, counter-clockwise, her injured right leg propelling her, and swept the ball into the cage, setting off an on-field celebration the likes of which the current Braves had never experienced.
Ninth-seeded Shikellamy survived an unsuccessful penalty stroke, a near-certain go-ahead goal by the No. 8 Mustangs, and a winless overtime record on the season to win Tuesday's District 4 Class AA preliminary game 2-1 in OT.
Reid's scoring move lasted only a couple heartbeats, maybe more given the intensity of the moment, but she felt as though it was a three-syllable "for-ev-er!"
"I was like, 'Oh, my God! Oh, my God!'" she said of the play. "I couldn't breathe. I've never felt that way before; I could not breathe. And then everyone piled on top of me and I was like (choking)."
Playing with a torn ACL she injured in the Braves' first scrimmage, Reid wasn't on the field at the start of overtime. Third-year coach Holly Zimmerman played sophomore Jamey Halloran among the first seven and rested last year's leading scorer.
"It was a little bit of a struggle not to have her out there, but she needed the rest and I know (sophomore Jamey Halloran has) got the wheels, too," said Zimmerman. "So it was get Jamey's wheels in, get Alexis a break and get Alexis in. And if (Reid) starts (7v7), who knows if she has (the energy) it takes to get that goal."
Halloran was extremely active in Shik's early OT surge, and left the field winded for Reid after 5 1/2 minutes. The intense back-and-forth play carried over from the second half, and Reid admitted she was struggling.
"I was kind of lagging the whole time," she said. "I told Erika (Rohrbach), 'There's no way I can keep dropping back and going.' So I don't know. I pulled it out of my butt, that's for sure."
Reid got the ball near midfield, passed Danielle Ulrich as she split two Mustangs on a run to the left side of the goal. Her initial push was stoned by Freed but, as the keeper went to the ground, Reid collected the rebound in front of two-thirds of an open cage.
"I was shocked. I didn't even realize (Reid's shot) went in until everyone started crying," said teary-eyed Shik senior back Cory Yerger. "We have been trying to get here since our freshman year, all playing together. It is amazing."
Yerger scored the game's first goal (a bullet from the left side off the Braves' sixth corner) and she played a big part in slowing Midd-West's second-half attack. The Mustangs didn't record a shot in the first half, so their sudden pressure might have come as a surprise had the teams not played a week earlier.
"I just think they had a bad case of the nerves in the first 30 minutes, and we were scared to move. Scared to make a mistake," said Midd-West coach Mandi Romig. "But you've got give them credit. They bounced back and made a game of it. That's all I asked from them at halftime."
"They came out charged and ready to shove it down our throat in the second half," said Yerger. "They're always aggressive. They want the ball; they want (the win). We just had to match that aggression."
The Mustangs scored the equalizer 10 minutes in, off their third corner of the half (and fourth of the game). Brenee Kratzer received Candace Hackenberg's insert and pushed right to Tricia Martin, who sent the ball diagonal left at goal. Hackenberg punched it in from the doorstep.
Not even two minutes later, Freed smothered Halloran's shot from the right post, giving Shik a penalty stroke. Yerger took it, lifting it slightly toward the right side where it met Freed's left pad.
"I was terrified," Yerger said. "I know I can do it; it just didn't go that time."
With a little less than 5 minutes to play, Katelyn Walter ripped a wicked right-to-left cross from near the sideline to the cage. Braves keeper Jessa Houghton lost sight of the ball momentarily, but Hackenberg could not get enough stick on the ball to finish the point-blank shot and it went wide.
Walter was one of just four senior starters in the Midd-West (10-9) lineup, with Freed, Kratzer and back Alli Sharp.
"It's something to build on for the future," Romig said, "but we would have liked to have gone on to play another day."
Shikellamy (10-8-1) has that opportunity in Thursday's quarterfinal round against top-seeded Bloomsburg (17-1), the HAC-II champ and last year's district runner-up. The winner advances to Saturday's semifinal at Bloomsburg University.
"I just wanted to get to districts," said Reid. "Obviously I would love to win them, but our goal first was just to get here.
"I think we all want to win it now."