It was a long walk from midfield to the penalty area to take a PK. And when the game's on the line the walk, both figuratively and literally, becomes that much longer.
For Loyalsock's Katy Burdett, who was sidelined last season with an ACL injury, the walk all the way to the penalty area in Saturday night's Class A District 4 championship was even longer.
But, with her team only needing a goal to win, Burdett placed the ball on the penalty spot, spun around to face her teammates one last time and spun back around to face the keeper.
Loyalsock players celebrate their District 4 Class A girls soccer title Saturday at Balls Mills.
Burdett buried the shot into the right side of the goal to give No. 1 Loyalsock a shootout win over No. 2 East Juniata to claim the school's third District 4 Class A championship in as many seasons.
"The walk always feels like the longest walk in the entire world," Burdett said. "I'm just thinking that we've been practicing PKs all week. I just kept telling myself 'Lets do it like you always do and you'll be fine.'"
"She's gone through a lot," Loyalsock coach Ben Comfort said of Burdett. "She had an ACL injury her junior year and you can tell she just wants it. She wants to make a deeper run and she's playing like that."
Allie Pagana, Burdett, Asia Ungard and Morgan Chambers all converted their attempts to give Loyalsock a 4-2 edge in the shootout. Amanda Daneker stopped a shot as well.
"I told the girls before (the shootout) that I was really confident," Pagana said. "We're a really confident team and we've been practicing PKs all year. I looked at everyone of my teammates and told them 'You're going to put that ball in the back of the net'."
The Lancers survived regulation thanks to a strong performance from the defense and Daneker. And Burdett, playing in her final season with the team, provided a nice spark for the defense throughout the contest.
In the second half while East Juniata dominated from a possession standpoint, Burdett chased down a streaking Kayla Hoke to block an attempt on goal.
"The backline throughout the year has been one of the best," Daneker said. "We all work well with each other. It's great to have them there because they have my back."
And did they.
As the Tigers controlled the majority of possession in the second half, Daneker was only challenged twice. The backline, with players like Ally Kennedy and Courtney Brown also supporting, kept East Juniata's offense at a distance, making Daneker's five saves on the night all the more easier to deal with.
"Amanda (Daneker) is very good at letting us know when she is going to get the ball. She's very good at communicating with us," said Nicole Dougherty, who rounded out the dominant performance on the back line with key blocks. "We are good at working together. We shift together and I couldn't be more proud of the way we all work together."
Chambers nearly broke the game open in the second overtime when she beat two defenders with a nifty move in the box. The only reason she wasn't able to break through was a one-handed, diving save made by Zetta Zettlemoyer, who stopped seven Lancer shots.
After the save, both teams looked ready for a shootout as the 80 minutes of regulation and two overtimes periods started to catch up.
Once the final buzzer sounded to signal the end to overtime, Comfort picked three of his trusted seniors and two outstanding juniors to take the kicks for a third season of district supremacy.
Ungard, who has been in exceptional form throughout the playoffs, converted the first PK of the shootout with a low shot to the right post. East Juniata was then sent reeling when its first attempt bounced off the crossbar.
"That definitely builds up everyone's confidence," Burdett said of the first miss by East Juniata. "It lets all of us know we're ahead and just need to take out time."
"It set the tone for us and them," Daneker said.
Chambers hit on Loyalsock's next attempt and Daneker followed East Juniata's first conversion with a highlight save.
"I've been there since my freshman year," Daneker said. "I have confidence in myself that I can stop shots. I trusted the girls to make their shots."
Pagana followed Chambers goal with one of her own, setting up a winner take all for chance Lauren Raemore on Loyalsock's fourth kick.
Raemore missed just wide in an effort to beat Zettlemoyer, who forced the shot to go wider than Raemore wanted. Kayla Hoke then followed with the Tigers second goal, setting Burdett up for the game-winner.
"In a PK situation where it's mentally tough, she was composed and brought home the win," Comfort said of Burdett.
Shooters: EJ-Mackayla Goodling (miss), Ashlyn Erhard (goal), Autumn Dressler (save), Kayla Hoke (goal). Loyalsock-Asia Ungard (goal), Morgan Chambers (goal), Allie Pagana (goal), Lauren Raemore (miss), Katy Burdett (goal).
Shots: L 8 EJ 9. Shots on goal: L 7 EJ 5. Corners: L 5 EJ 4. Saves: L (Amanda Daneker) 5 EJ (Zetta Zettlemoyer) 7. Fouls: L 9 EJ 11. Cards: L none. EJ none.
Next: Loyalsock vs. District 2 winner, Ball Mills Soccer Club, Tuesday 5 p.m.