NEWTOWN TWP. — The scene in the Delco Christian penalty area showed just what Bailey Kratz had done.
Littered here and there on the turf at Council Rock North were green-clad Knights, too tired to move after 87 minutes of soccer. Three lay in the net, spent from the desperate attempts at preventing the end of their season; alongside them, crucially, was the ball.
And it was all because of the play of the Christopher Dock forward.
Kratz's goal, after a mazy run through defenders and by goalkeeper Jamie Barr that evaded the flailing clearance attempts of a pair of Knights, meant the difference for Dock in a 3-2, overtime win in the District One Class A title game.
For Kratz, it was the second goal of the game, a superb solo effort spurred by a through ball from Raychel Bair that trickled agonizingly over the line without even enough steam to flutter the back of the net.
For Delco Christian, it was the end of a comeback attempt over a heavily favored Dock team, one that led the Knights by two wins on the season ledger and two goals on the scoreboard after 22 minutes Wednesday night.
Instead of fold at the hands of the No. 1 seed, which advances to the PIAA tournament starting next week, the No. 2 Knights gamely fought back thanks to goals from Alex Thompson and Julia Kyne, and had some of the better chances in a tense second half.
It wasn't to be, though, in overtime. Kratz made sure of it.
"I get frustrated very easily, but we're also a team. We win as a team; we lose as a team,' Kratz said. "We could get more (than the two goals), I knew that. So we just had to keep pushing. We really came out in overtime just wanting it.'
Kratz had opened the scoring way back in the 19th minute, getting her foot to a ball amid a crowd of defenders and lofting a volley out of the reach of Barr. When Mattasyn Shisler got loose in space and made it 2-0 three minutes later, the game had the makings of a quick evening.
But there was a feeling among the Knights that a breakthrough was close. Kyne and Thompson each had dangerous crosses played into the box that needed just a touch to go in, but there were no takers wearing green. Dock goalkeeper Emily Gordon also got a hand to Thompson's shot midway through the first half, barely keeping it out.
Finally, a shot by Thompson caromed off a defender and into the net, eluding the grasp of Gordon.
It was the break that turned up the heat on the game.
"When they first got the two goals, we weren't feeling as good as we thought we would,' Thompson said. "We thought we were going to go out there, hit them first, score first. Once I scored, I think the energy picked up, and that's when we really turned it around.'
When Kyne beat Gordon to a Kailey Neef through ball at the top of the area and toe-poked a shot that lofted over the keeper and into the net in the 46th minute, the teams were back on level terms.
With the game at times a track meet, it seemed each team had its chances to counterpunch. Delco Christian's Jillian Freeman skied a shot just over the bar on one end, while a header by Bair sailed just wide of an open cage on the other. Thompson sent a ball across the face of goal off a corner that missed an open corner of the cage by inches, while Tabitha Miller flashed a header wide of the net.
Despite the constant pressure by Shisler and Kratz, the Knights back four, all underclassmen, hung tight.
"We knew we couldn't let them go down the sidelines because that's what they're good at, then crossing it,' defender Paige Thompson said. "We forced them into the middle, and we knew we had to lock down and not let them get easy goals.'
"You couldn't let up,' Thompson said. "You had to stay strong the whole time and not get pushed around. It was really tough, but you had to do it.'
Dock, which had beaten the Knights by scores of 5-1 and 4-2 in the Bicentennial regular season, saved its most sustained pressure for the best time, right out of the overtime kickoff. The motivation? Just one simple fact.
"Just the simple words of, ' get one in early, and we're going home,'' Kratz said of the extent of the talk between regulation and overtime. "That was it. We knew we needed to get a goal, and we did.'
Miller headed wide off a corner 60 seconds in, then Claudia Norton saved the game — at least temporarily — with a goal-line clearance after Kratz got free in space down the left wing. Analeigh Crisanti, again battling knee troubles that forced her to sit for 10 minutes in the second half, stepped up to block an attempt by Kratz.
But that only set the stage for Kratz's heroics. Barr charged out near the penalty spot to challenge, but Kratz dribbled around her. Jessica Freeman and Brenna Richards swiped at the ball as it passed toward the far post, but off-balance, there was nothing they could do.
It was little consolation, but for a young Delco Christian team, at least one fact was evident immediately: That it had gone toe-to-toe for almost 90 minutes never backing down. The ending wasn't ideal, but that put it in the minority on the evening.
"It was just a breakdown,' Paige Thompson said. "We could've had it. I don't think we were really communicating. At the end, we just saw it go by. Brenna tried to get it. We tried, but we couldn't.'