WHITEHALL - Sometimes a real dogfight could be the best thing the doctor ordered. Especially if you've been starting to breeze past your opponents with ease.
Such was the case for Lehighton's very talented and unbeaten field hockey team on Tuesday in the opening round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs.
The Indians, now 23-0 and coming off a shutout win in the district championship this past weekend, had the better of District 3 No. 4 team Lancaster Mennonite for most of regulation. But they couldn't get the ball into the crease.
"From what we read, we prepare to face a good, passing team," said Mennonite coach Cicely Berkey. "So our strategy was to step in the passing lanes and try to stop them from catching the ball. Overall, I think we did a good job of that."
The two teams battled through the first and second half scoreless. Then the 15-minute sudden death overtime began and right away the Indians took control in the "7 on 7" battle.
After the third penalty corner in Lehighton's favor, Abby Frey found Echo Bretz at the right post and the junior slammed it past Mennonite goalie Kaitlin Brubaker for the game-winner.
Bretz, who now has 12 goals and 11 assists on the season, was at a loss for words after.
"I'm just so overwhelmed right now," she said while trying to recollect herself. "The ball was on my stick and I hit it in."
It was senior Frey who slammed the ball toward Bretz who got credit for the assist and consistently put the pressure on the Blazers in the OT.
"I just saw a wide open space and hit it as fast as I could," she said. "Coach Hindy has always told us to look for the high post so I did and Echo was there.
"We had possession in our end most of the second half and in the overtime it showed that with the good shape we're in we were ready."
The Indians finished with 14 shots on goal, while Mennonite had just three. Lehighton goalie Sarah Snyder ended up with two saves, while Brubaker had nine.
Lehighton also finished with a 15-5 edge in penalty corners and 10 of them came after intermission.
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy," said Lehighton coach Shawn Hindy. "They just lost to a very good Palmyra team 2-0 in their last outing.
"We just had to fight it out. When we went to 7 on 7, I was confident and believe enough in these girls that we'll get one in. For us it's an advantage because we have some special athletes on this team."
In the long run, Hindy felt a game like this could help his team in the long run.
"Maybe we were getting a little arrogant and cocky since we were winning pretty easy of late," he added. "Hopefully this will help us get mentally prepared for our next contest and realize that once you get in the state playoffs, no game is easy."
The Indians will now take on Crestwood, a 2-0 winner over Palmyra on Saturday.