WEEDSPORT — The momentum shifted with 10.4 seconds left in regulation.
Aubrey Ouderkirk converted on a penalty stroke to tie the score and Suzie Nemec returned from an injury to net the game-winner in overtime, as the Weedsport field hockey team rallied to edge rival Port Byron 2-1 at Weedsport High School Thursday.
"I was proud of the girls because they never quit," Warriors coach Theresa Leonardi said. "Even when you're down at the opposite end of the field with 30 seconds to go, in field hockey that's a lot of time. I was really proud that they kept working and kept working, and brought it up the field."
Both Ouderkirk and Nemec's goals were unassisted for Weedsport. Mariah Quigley made 10 saves in net.
Rileigh Gray scored the lone goal for Port Byron, with Rileigh Luste picking up an assist. Maria Burns finished with five saves.
"She's a freshman goalie, so that was a tough situation for her to be in, but she rose above it and did the best she could do," Panthers coach Mindy Gilbert said of Burns. "Every one of my kids supported her and had encouraging words for her."
Gray got Port Byron on the board first 16:37 into the contest. The Panthers created a scramble in front of the Warriors net, and the senior was able to tuck the ball in through traffic.
Despite a 1-0 advantage at halftime, Gilbert knew the lead wasn't safe.
"I thought we had a lot of good opportunities," Gilbert said. "We had the ball in the circle quite a bit and had some really good looks. We finished that one and we were looking to finish a couple more. We wanted some insurance, but it didn't happen.
"But the kids never let down, ever."
Play picked up in the final 15 minutes. Both teams created offensive opportunities — cross passes that skipped over sticks, shots just wide or chances that forced the goalies to make diving stops.
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With time winding down in the final minute, Nemec drove down the left side of the field and was taken down inside the circle. Ruled a flagrant foul by the officials, Weedsport was awarded a penalty stroke with 10.4 seconds left.
Ouderkirk buried the stroke to tie the score and send the game to overtime.
"I told Aubrey that's one of the most pressure-packed strokes anybody is going to make anywhere," Leonardi said. "She works very hard at that, as she does her entire game, and it paid off."
Nemec, who was down injured and needed to be carried off the field, returned for overtime. The Warriors quickly took advantage of a two-player advantage to start the 7 vs. 7 because of a pair of cards given to the Panthers late in regulation. Nemec was sprung on a 2-on-0 and her low shot to the corner ended the game 2:05 into the extra session.
"When regulation ended, I didn't think Suzie was going to be able to play," Leonardi said of Nemec, the team's leading scorer with 13 goals this season. "Suzie is an enormous part of our offense, so I was trying to decide what we were going to do and who was going to play for her. Basically, we had to reconfigure the 7 vs. 7. ... Suzie came over and said she could play, and the trainer nodded yes.
"I'm really glad she could play."
Although the end didn't go the Panthers way, Gilbert liked the way her team played for 60-plus minutes.
"Overall, this group of kids stick together. They're a family. They supported each other and played their hearts out," Gilbert said. "This loss does hurt because I felt they played really well. To lose at the tail end after that hard work is a disappointment, but I know we're going to learn from this and move forward."
Both teams return to action Monday. Port Byron (4-4-1) hosts Auburn, while Weedsport (7-1-1) welcomes Cato-Meridian. The Panthers and Warriors will meet one more time this season, Oct. 8 in Port Byron.
"It's always exciting to play Port Byron. It's always a battle with them," Leonardi said. "It's always good to beat them, but we also know that it doesn't matter how many times you've played them and what the score was, it's always going to be a battle the next time you face them."