State College, Pa. - Hazleton thrilled fans with fantastic soccer for the second straight postseason game but just like their regular season matchup, Brandywine would come away with a 3-2 overtime victory, this time for the Penn State University Athletic Conference Championship
Nearly duplicating their effort from the regular season, Hazleton settled into to heavy defensive formation for the first half, looking to shorten the game and fluster the Brandywine attack. That style of play forced Brandywine into long shooting attempts and worked for the bulk of the first half until a brilliant shot by Brandywine's Brianna Banks broke the 0-0 tie in the 33rd minute of play. Banks hooked a long shot from the left side of the field, nicking the fingertips of diving freshman goalkeeper Roxxy Dacosta (Bronx, Ny.) and curling around the left post for the goal. That lone goal would hold up through the remainder of the period but Hazleton would strike back in the second half.
The Lions resumed their defensive posture for a brief period of time in the second half but quickly changed formations and went on the attack. In the 64th minute that strategy paid off as sophomore Emma Wyllie (Benton, Pa.) penetrated the Brandywine defense and was taken down in the box resulting in a Hazleton penalty kick try. Senior Madison Polumbo (Freeland, Pa.) took the attempt, striking the ball into the bottom left corner of the net and knotting the score at one goal each.
Later in the half Hazleton struck again, putting Brandywine behind for the first time this season against PSUAC competition. Wyllie split two defenders in the Brandywine back row for a one on one with keeper Emily Bush and tucked the ball past the keeper for a 2-1 Hazleton advantage with just nine minutes remaining in regulation. Hazleton looked to lock defensive but a stroke of bad luck would ensue just two minutes after the Lions took the lead. A costly incidental handball inside the 18, paved the way for Banks penalty kick in the 84th minute of play, a kick Banks promptly put away for the equalizer.
Both squads would come up empty in the final minutes of regulation leading to an overtime period that ended in eerily similar fashion to the October 9th matchup between the two teams. Once again it was Brandywine's Brianna Banks inflicting the damage as she worked for a shot in the middle of the field. Banks fired a low shot into the right side of the goal just 87 seconds into extra time, netting the game winning goal and PSUAC title for the defending champions.
It's the end of an era for six Lady Lion seniors who served up one of their finest efforts of the year and came within minutes of the program's first PSUAC title. Seniors Lauren Degler (Oley Valley, Pa.), Breann Fetterman (Mountain Top, Pa.), Meghann Principe (Lake Harmony, Pa.), Madison Polumbo, Katie Oldziejewski (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) and Ariel Rowalnds (Dorrance, Pa.) have all been with the program since it's inception in 2016 and leave behind an impressive legacy for the next class of Hazleton student-athletes to reach for.