Balint scores game-winner for Warrior girls

MILLVILLE — Montoursville’s Kyleigh Balint may wear No. 17, but she joked that the number 10 may be her new lucky number. Last week, it took Balint just 10 seconds into overtime to score the game-winner over Lewisburg in the District 4 Class AA quarterfinals.

On Tuesday at Millard C. Lud­wig Memorial Stadium in Millville, it was again Balint that scored the game-winner. Although this time, it was with 10 seconds remaining in the first overtime period rather than 10 seconds in.

Balint took a great pass from Caroline King just outside the goal box and instantly fired a shot to her left. It hit off the post and rolled to the back of the net. Balint turned, ran into teammate Bri Ulmer and jumped into her arms. The Warriors are once again district championship bound.

The goal sealed Montoursville’s win, 2-1, in overtime over Miff­linburg to assure Montours­ville a state playoff berth and advance the Warriors to the District 4 Class AA title game against Loyalsock on Thursday at a time and place to be determined.

“Ten seconds, 10’s my lucky number. I had to turn and shoot again,” Balint said. “I saw I didn’t have anybody on me and I ripped it, just like I did in other game (against Lewisburg in quarterfinals).”

With less than 30 seconds re­maining, Montoursville quickly had a throw in down in Mifflinburg’s end. Lexi Marchioni took it from outside the 18 and passed it to inside where Balint was on the receiving end. Balint then dished it to King, who fed it back to her and she instantly fired her shot to the post for the goal.

About three minutes before Balint scored, Mifflinburg appeared to have put the game away when the Wildcats’ Sierra Martin sent a nice high shot that appeared to have went in, but it went just over the crossbar and resulted in a goal kick instead of ending the game.

“I was happy to see that wasn’t a goal. We rely a lot on our goalkeeper at times, and she comes through for us,” Montoursville coach Vic Gorini said of goalie Marlene Bassett. “We just collectively pick up for each other on field and things worked out, thankfully.”

Mifflinburg tied the game up late in the first half with 5:46 to play. The Wildcats’ Kali Shuck got the ball inside the 18 and fired a great shot after a corner took some bounces and snuck it inside of the left post to tie it up at 1-1.

The Warriors scored seven minutes in to score the opening goal. Bri Ulmer fed a pass to King just inside of the 18, who fired a nice shot past the Mifflinburg goalie to the right post for the early 1-0 lead.

Ulmer had a chance to reclaim the lead for Montoursville with about eight minutes to play in regulation when she lined up for a penalty kick, but the shot went wide and over the goal.

“It’s a PK. What’s that saying? You only miss the shots you don’t take? That’s it. She took the shot (and) it was OK. It was a mistake,” Balint said. “Like I said, that’s another reason why we continued to fight: for each other.”

Both teams ended regulation with six shots on goal, although Mifflinburg did fire a total of 14 shots in the first half to Montoursville’s seven. The Wildcats opened the second half with more pressure against Montoursville and kept pressing, although Montoursville defensively and Bassett didn’t allow a go-ahead goal from Mifflinburg.

“We didn’t particularly handle the ball as well as we could have in certain situations. It was just back and forth,” Gorini said.” Mifflinburg brought some pressure and at times, we took control. It was just really back and forth in terms of who had upper hand.”

Mifflinburg’s Madison Machmer was solid throughout the game for the Wildcats taking shots, especially in the first half. With 26:19 to play trailing by a goal, Machmer got it from about 15 yards out and had a 1-v-1 look with Bassett, but the shot was attempted to the near post and went out of bounds into the side of the net.

“We expected this to be a very tight game back and forth like it was,” Gorini said. “We were very happy to come out on top. Work was cut out for us all night.”

With the win, Montoursville will play for its third district championship banner in four years. The Warriors won in 2013 and 2014 and lost in the first round of last year’s playoffs. Win or lose on Thursday in the final, the Warriors guaranteed themselves a state playoff berth. For the Warriors, getting to states was a goal this season.

“That was our goal, getting to states was our goal and we feel as though we can move through that state bracket once we get there,” Gorini said. “We’re definitely happy to be there.”

“Oh my God, it’s my first time going into states and that’s huge for me (and) huge for them,” Balint said of herself and the Warriors. “I’m so glad we made it together.”

Mtv-Caroline King (Bri Ulmer), 33:40. Miff-Kali Shuck, 5:46. Mtv-Kyleigh Balint (King), 0:10.

Shots: Miff 8, Mtv 10. Corners: Miff 7, Mtv 3. Saves: Miff (Bekki Weller) 6, Mtv (Marlene Bassett) 7.

Records: Mifflinburg (16-4), Montoursville (19-0). Next game: Montoursville vs. Loyalsock, District 4 Class AA championship, Thursday, TBD.