---- — By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- Being in the right place at the right time is a common theme among field hockey goal scorers, but they don't just simply appear in the perfect spot.
That part of the equation requires work, and for Brooke Zeiders it was more difficult than usual Wednesday.
Zeiders, hobbled from a foot injury sustained in Monday's district semifinals, deftly tipped two shots past Lewisburg keeper Dentin Kline for goals in Wednesday's title game at Bucknell's Graham Field. The second, with just 61 seconds to play, gave Selinsgrove its ninth consecutive district championship, 2-1 over the Green Dragons.
"I pushed through it because I wanted this bad and I know our team wanted it," said Zeiders. "I knew I had to push through the pain."
The most Zeiders would allow is that she was still "a little ouchy" from the left foot injury that left her limping in tears two nights earlier. At the time of the incident, it seemed the junior's district tournament was over. After all, she recalled feeling "a crunch" in her foot.
However, with a tight wrap of athletic tape and her own pain-numbing adrenaline, she played out the win over archrival Mifflinburg.
In Wednesday's final, she still limped slightly when she wasn't sprinting, which wasn't very often. As the girl who inserts on Seals' corners, she had to bolt to the post to be in position for a possible tip a total of 15 times.
The game-winning goal came on the last of three consecutive corner plays in a minute's time -- or three painful sprints for Zeiders.
"I did get lucky with that; I just kind of laid my stick down," she said of the winner. "But I had to make sure I was at that post because anything can happen. Anything can happen."
The Seals (20-1) play a Class AA first-round state playoff game with District 2 runner-up Wyoming Seminary at 5 p.m. Tuesday back at Bucknell. They beat Seminary 4-1 on Oct. 4.
Lewisburg (15-4-1) -- the last team to win the district prior to Selinsgrove's streak -- plays the District 11 runner-up, either Northern Lehigh or Southern Lehigh, in a play-in game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Central Columbia.
Selinsgrove didn't play nearly as aggressive from the start as Monday, a nod to Lewisburg's playmakers and their defense-to-offense transition ability. Still, the more deliberate style generated the game's first five corners and a goal at the 13:34 mark of the first half.
"We tried to play smart because we knew it was going to be a tough game," said Seals junior forward Emily Klingler.
Zeiders was at the left post, ready to redirect Katelyn Hauck's shot from the top-left of the circle for a 1-0 lead.
"It's pretty difficult," Kline said of defending tips. "It's kind of a guessing game. You have to try to tell which side their stick's on, then go that way and try to save it."
Lewisburg played without a corner until late in the half, when Maggie Harrison moved left to right into the circle and left the ball for Cassie Sumfest in the middle to get a call. Haley Stanko handled Eliza Newlin's insert at the top of the circle, pushed the ball ahead to Maddie Scarr in the middle and onto Shannon Albright in front of the cage. After a brief scramble, Newlin pounced on the ball behind Seals keeper Courtney McCartney and punched in her third goal in two games with 1:16 to play.
"We certainly felt like we were in the game," said Dragons coach Emily O'Connor, "but that was the equalizer we needed to really feel confident about it."
Klinger, who was strong with the ball on her stick throughout, weaved through Sumfest, Harrison and Newlin from the right side of the circle to earn a corner that sparked a string of four in fewer than two minutes. During that stretch, Sumfest took a yellow card for a high stick in the circle and Selinsgrove did all it could to take a lead with a player advantage. Kline stood up to the challenge with four of her 12 saves.
"We were shooting at the goalie instead of trying to hit the corners or those little touch passes," said Seals coach Cathy Keiser. "You want to get the ball in the cage and I think we get too anxious sometimes."
Lewisburg had the same opportunity when Geneka Mahan was cuffed for the same foul with 9:40 to play, but the Dragons couldn't mount a similar attack.
So, with time winding down and Zeiders inserting the third of three straight corners, Nora Aucker left the ball behind her to Megan Wetzel for the bullet Zeiders tipped in with 1:01 showing.
The Dragons earned a corner in the final 10 seconds, but Harrison's play to Sumfest on the left side was deflected across the face of the cage and out of the circle.
"You fight, you fight, you fight ... and then you just get that crushing blow," said O'Connor. "We went down fighting and that's all we asked of our girls."