For the better part of 45 minutes on Wednesday, Exeter went toe-to-toe with District 3’s top-ranked girls lacrosse team.
The Eagles led defending champion Manheim Township by two goals and were less than 15 minutes away from earning their first District 3 title.
But top-seeded Manheim Township scored the game’s final five goals to defeat third-seeded Exeter 12-9 in the District 3 Class 3A championship game at Landis Field.
But the Blue Streaks (19-3) started their comeback in the closing minute of the first half. With a one-player advantage, Lucy Svetec scored the second of her four goals to trim Exeter’s lead to 7-5 at halftime.
With the Blue Streaks still owning a one-player advantage, Taylor Kopan scored 40 seconds into the second half to trim Exeter’s lead to one.
But Exeter answered. Karstien scored her third goal to put the Eagles back up by two with about 23 minutes left.
After Manheim Township scored, Ariana Kline scored off an assist from Peyton Halsey with 17:17 left to give Exeter a 9-7 lead.
The Eagles would not score again.
The Blue Streaks started to take over and gained their first lead with 12 minutes left on Megan Rice’s second goal.
But the backbreaker came less than six minutes later.
Kline had a chance to tie it off a restart, but her shot was stopped by Blue Streaks goalie Gail Wilkes.
With Manheim Township shorthanded, Svetec raced end-to-end to score a goal that put Exeter in an 11-9 hole with 6:24 left.
With a two-goal lead, Manheim Township spread its offense to take time off the clock. With the Exeter defense in chase mode, Kopan capped the scoring with her fourth goal with 3:01 left.
Exeter Goalie Elli Godinez made 11 saves for the Eagles.
Wilkes made eight saves for the Blue Streaks.
By finishing second for the second time in four years, Exeter earned a berth in the PIAA Tournament and will play the District 1 runner-up, Harriton or Conestoga, on Tuesday.
The state tournament begins Tuesday. The finals are scheduled for Saturday June 8th at West Chester University.