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Girls soccer: Bethlehem edges Shen for AA title

Donnelly's OT goal sends Eagles into regionals again

The Bethlehem girls soccer team won its fourth consecutive Section II Class AA title, but not without a little controversy.

Dana Donnelly's overtime corner kick was ruled to have bounced off a Shenendehowa defender standing inside the left post, leading the Lady Eagles to a 3-2 victory over the Plainswomen in Wednesday's Sectional final at Stillwater High School.

"It was kind of crazy," said Donnelly. "I set the ball up, I took a deep breath as I always do and I just tried to get it on goal."

The Shen bench contended that the defender was standing on the line so the ball couldn't have crossed over it, but the referees allowed the goal.

"That was a great ball in. Give credit to Bethlehem for a good ball in," said Shen coach Holli Mulholland. "But we have kids on the post for situations like that."

Shen (14-5-0) twice came back from one-goal deficits to force overtime before Donnelly's goal helped Bethlehem (14-3-2) pull out its third consecutive victory over the Plainswomen in a Sectional final.

Bethlehem took a 1-0 lead early in the first half when Tara Teal sent in a shot from the left side that Shen goaltender Makala Foley couldn't catch up to. Shen had several scoring chances go by the wayside until Sylvia Kool struck a hard-angle shot that glanced off Bethlehem keeper Katie Nickles' fingers and over the goal line to tie the game at 1 with 5:39 left in the first half.

"Their first goal was very similar [to Donnelly's]," said Bethlehem coach Tom Rogan. "You hope they [the referees] don't call it in, but once they call it in, it's in."

Bethlehem regained the lead midway though the second half when Katherine Dority scored off a scramble in front of the Shen goal. Once again, the Plainswomen rallied to tie the game. This time, Meghan Merritt took a lead pass and slotted the ball past a hard-charging Nickles to make the score 2-2 with 7:06 left in regulation.

Nickles stopped a Shen scoring bid at the start of the first 10-minute overtime period, and Foley made a diving stop on a Bethlehem shot before Donnelly's corner kick put the Lady Eagles ahead to stay. Nickles made a pair of saves in the second 10-minute overtime period to preserve the lead.

Bethlehem meets Section III champion Liverpool in Saturday's regional final at Stillwater High School.

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