By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
BERWICK -- Cathy Keiser had quite an unenviable task, one that not even three decades of experience could make any easier.
What do you say to a relatively young team that played as hard as Selinsgrove did Saturday, only to lose its state quarterfinal game on a short-handed goal with 2 seconds left in regulation?
The folks at Hallmark wouldn't want any part of it.
"I just told them they can't hang their heads because they played one heck of a game," Keiser said. "Their effort was there: very strong, very intense, very focused. No regrets."
The Seals had all but won their way to overtime -- and make no mistake, playing 60 scoreless minutes against Crestwood was a victory -- when the unthinkable happened.
Marissa Surdy's pass from just inside the top-right of the circle found freshman Elizabeth Dessoye on a dead sprint to the left post for the stunning 1-0 winner.
Just like that, Selinsgrove's worst-to-first season ended. The Seals overcame a Halley's Comet-rare three-game losing streak (which included a 1-0 loss to Crestwood) early in the season, and battled as the No. 5 seed to win their eighth consecutive District 4 title, earning the right to hope for more.
Instead, the District 2 champion Comets (21-2) will play District 3 runner-up Greenwood (20-3-1) in the Class AA semifinals Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. The Seals finished 16-5-2.
"It hurts a lot -- hurts a lot right now -- but I couldn't be more proud of my team," said Selinsgrove mid Jenna Kapsar, one of four seniors. "They gave it their all."
Neither Keiser nor Kapsar believed the Seals let down their guard in the waning seconds when overtime seemed a virtual certainty.
There was a quicker-than-anticipated restart when a ball knocked out of bounds near the Crestwood bench was stopped by a Comets assistant coach using her clipboard and readied for play. Iowa recruit Chandler Ackers played the ball in from the right side and pushed it ahead to Surdy, starting the game-winning sequence.