Anna Gray's blast leads Bethlehem past Shenendehowa

Anna Gray has never been shy about shooting the soccer ball from any distance or any angle.

The Bethlehem senior launched a long shot into the right side of the Shenendehowa goal midway through the third overtime period to lift the Lady Eagles to a 2-1 victory in Wednesday's Section II Class AA final at Stillwater High School.

\I love to rip shots. I love to rip them from all over the field, said Gray.

At first, Gray's shot appeared to be a crossing pass into the Shen penalty box. But the line took the ball inside the right goal post to end the marathon.

"She was intending it to be a shot," said Bethlehem coach Tom Rogan.

The game started out as a series of near misses. Both teams had several shots that missed tucking under the crossbar during 80 scoreless minutes of regulation time.

Bethlehem (18-1) broke the scoreless tie midway through the first of two 10-minute overtime periods. Kristina Maksuti took a lead pass, got past a Shen defender and chipped the ball past Shen goaltender Mackenzie Mylod, who came off her line to try to dive on the ball. Maksuti finished the play by knocking the ball into the empty net for a 1-0 lead.

Shen (15-3-1) didn't remain down for long. Early in the second 10-minute overtime period, senior midfielder Molly Popolizio ripped the ball past Bethlehem goaltender Katie Nickles to tie the game at 1.

"Any other team might have folded giving up a goal in overtime, but we hung in there and kept playing hard," said Shen coach Holli Mulholland.

"Molly has an excellent [outside] shot," said Rogan. "She scored from exactly that spot against us last year."

It was only the third time all season that Bethlehem had given up a lead.

"We've played great with the lead all year long," said Rogan.

But when Gray scored less than two minutes into the first five-minute sudden victory overtime period, Bethlehem earned its second consecutive Sectional title and a berth in Saturday's regional final against Section III champion CBA-Syracuse at Stillwater.

"We just love to play. We don't ever want the game to end," said Gray.

"They charge $6 for admission, and we wanted to give the people extra time," added Rogan.


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