LEWISBURG — The ballhandler finally took things into her own hands.
And now, Wyoming Seminary has a strong hold on its state playoff fate.
Rebecca Weinstock put the winning goal into the net almost halfway through overtime Tuesday as Sem avenged an earlier loss and became the second team to beat Selinsgrove this season with a thrilling 2-1 victory in a PIAA Class 2A field hockey playoff opener at Bucknell University’s William Graham Field.
“Relieving,” Weinstock called the moment, “just knowing we’re moving on to the next round of states.”
That will be Saturday when the Blue Knights (15-6-1) will face District 1 champion Upper Perkiomen — a 3-2 winner over District 3 fifth-place team Donegal in another state opener — at a time and site to be determined in the PIAA quarterfinals.
The Blue Knights got there with an aggressive attitude and style they used to dominate the second half while tying the game, forcing overtime and forcing most of the action into Selinsgrove’s side of the field.
“We turned up the tempo,” Seminary coach Karen Klassner said.
That included Weinstock, who typically makes near-perfect centering passes from the wing.
She gave Sem at least three prime scoring chances during a 2-0 District 2 championship loss to Crestwood last week with passes from the outside.
But when Tuesday’s game reached overtime, Weinstock went inside.
Good thing for Sem, too, because Weinstock took a feed from Mallory Lefkowitz on a rush to the net and pushed the ball into the wide side of the goal for the winning score with 8:24 remaining in the 15-minute overtime.
“When we’re in a seven-a-side, her stick skills come through for us,” Klassner said. “She’s one of our strongest one-on-one players.
“We needed her to do what she did.”
That’s because despite Sem’s insistence on forcing the action and a number of strong rushes started by Alexis Quick on the outside, the Blue Knights wasted one opportunity after the next throughout the second half . Sem hit the post on one shot, narrowly missed the net on another, was thwarted on three consecutive corners during one stretch and came away empty despite holding a two-man advantage on a power play for nearly two minutes.
But through it all, the Blue Knights did rally to tie the game.
Morgan Malone re-directed a shot by Gabby Grossman between the pipes just 3:01 into the second half, forging a 1-1 tie with the Seals.
“Our coaches are are really supportive of us,” Weinstock, a junior forward, said of Sem’s halftime discussion. “They really know what to say to keep us up.”
Before that, it seemed Sem’s spirits started to sink.
Selinsgrove opened the game by limiting Sem’s scoring opportunities - the Blue Knights took just two shots in the first half - and the Seals grabbed a 1-0 lead when Brooke Zeiders whistled a shot into the far corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“This field is so fast,” Klassner said of Bucknell’s turf. “We haven’t played on anything like this all year long. It took us a while to get adjusted.”
Prior to the game’s start, and during it, the Blue Knights made their own adjustments.
After falling to Selinsgrove 4-1 earlier this season - “We knew what they were capable of,” Klassner said - Sem switched the positions of midfielders Malone and Lefkowitz, with Malone shifting to the outside, and brought Quick up to midfield.
“We made a lot of adjustments to help us move the ball better,” Klassner said.
It worked, especially in the second half. Sem allowed Selinsgrove just six shots for the game, while the Blue Knights took that many themselves in the second half and little more than six minutes of overtime to finish with eight shots on goal.
“Even before they scored that first goal, we knew we had to connect with more than one goal,” Weinstock said.
Now, the Blue Knights plan to keep connecting in the next round of states.
“The passes I made in the district final, they were good,” Weinstock said. “It’s all about what happens in the state tournament. Just because we didn’t win the district title doesn’t mean we can’t win the state title.”
And getting an emotionally-uplifting victory against a team that handled the Blue Knights earlier this season certainly can’t hurt Sem’s confidence through the rest of the state tourney.
“It helps,” Klassner said. “We’re going to have to play all the best teams in the state to get to where we want to go. We know that. You know what, bring it on. We know what we have to do.”
Wyoming Seminary 2, Selinsgrove 1
First half — 1. SEL, Brooke Zeiders (Emily Kingler), 25:19. Second half — 2. SEM, Morgan Malone (Gabby Grossman), 3:01. Overtime - 3. SEM, Rebecca Weinstock (Mallory Lefkowitz), 6:36.
Shots — SEM 8; SEL 6. Saves — SEM 5 (Mackenzie Gagliardi); SEL 6 (Courtney McCarthy). Penalty corners — SEM 9; SEL 5.