---- — By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
MANDATA -- Katie Osborne processed as much thought as she could in the seconds after Line Mountain's game-tying goal rattled the cage with a little more than 2 minutes to play Tuesday.
"I was just like, 'Oh, no! We're going to have to go into overtime,'" Greenwood's all-state keeper lamented while sprawled on the dirt after missing a shot struck just beyond her reach.
By the time Osborne pulled herself to her feet, however, the goal was disallowed and the Wildcats were awarded a 16-yard hit.
Wait ... what? she thought.
The play, which began with a corner, was waved off because, the officials said, the ball didn't leave the circle on the insert. They ruled that Madison Lagerman received Olivia Kleman's insert on the line before sending it at the cage and into a scrum that resulted in the goal.
The Wildcats ran out the clock on the stunned Eagles, preserving a very hard-fought 2-1 win and likely clearing a path to their fifth consecutive Tri-Valley League championship.
"I didn't see it the way (the official) saw it," said Line Mountain coach Jill Martz-Yisrael.
The Eagles (13-3, 6-2 TVL) took their best shot at the unbeaten league leaders, dictating a level of physical, determined play that got Greenwood's attention. Line Mountain even drew first blood, scoring 11-plus minutes in on a Lagerman bullet off a corner insert.
The Wildcats (11-2-1, 6-0) went ahead not even 2 minutes into second half and dominated most of the period until a late-game Line Mountain surge almost paid off big.
"It's gut-wrenching," said Martz-Yisrael. "To work that hard, to come back like that, and to tie it up and have the opportunity to go to 7v7 and have another chance ... it takes the wind out of your sails.
"It feels like you get punched right in the gut. But I guess that's part of sports."
Just as they did in the Sept. 20 game in Millerstown, the Eagles took the fight to Greenwood, trying to slow the Wildcats' desired pace with physical play. Line Mountain back Savannah Copson earned the first of three cards issued in the game just 7 minutes in, shortly before Lagerman's ice-breaking goal. With about 7 minutes left in the half, play was stopped while the officials warned both teams against playing the body rather than the ball.
"I really wasn't prepared for how physical it was at all," said Wildcats senior forward Brittany Fleisher. "If anything, it made me want to play more intense. To see how much the other team was fighting, we just wanted to put up as much of a fight as they did."
Lauren Fried tied the game with 4:19 left in the half. Mallory Fortenbaugh knocked a ball in front of the cage and Fried let it settle for a split-second before drilling it into the right side.
Then, about 90 seconds into the second half, Fleisher whipped a shot that got Eagles keeper Colleen Troutman to drop for a save. After a brief scramble, Fortenbaugh slammed home the rebound for a 2-1 lead.
"At halftime that's what we talked about, that we'd have to be physically tough in this game," said Greenwood coach Kent Houser. "This wasn't going to be a cute game; there was no pretty out there. That was both teams getting after it, and I think both teams need to be admired for the good, tough play it was."
The Wildcats earned 10 of their 14 corners in the second half, and it took a Paige Adams' defensive save at the mouth of the cage with 15:25 left to keep it a one-goal game.
Greenwood was issued two cards in the last 10 minutes, including a yellow to Kelsey Keener that gave the Eagles a 5-minute player advantage. The no-goal was scored at the tail end of Keener's penalty.
"I thought, Oh, my gosh. Everything we worked for is gone," said Fleisher.
"When they said it didn't go outside the circle we were like, 'Yay!'" added Osborne.
The Wildcats have four league games remaining, two against teams they beat 5-0 the first time around and two against Juniata, which is winless in TVL play.
"There was no question they understood (the magnitude)," Houser said of his girls. "It was a must-win for (the Eagles, to try to force a TVL playoff game), and, the truth is, it was a must-win for us.
"We wanted to win here."