Fleet­wood cap­tures crown

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - FRONT PAGE - By Jeff De­wees For Digital First Me­dia

HER­SHEY » The Fleet­wood girls’ soc­cer team are get­ting these nights at Her­shey­park Sta­dium down pat.

The Tigers claimed a se­cond District 3 Class AAA ti­tle in three sea­sons with a come-from-be­hind 3-1 vic­tory over Mid-Penn foe East Penns­boro in a matchup of the two best clubs in the 3A tour­na­ment. It is the pro­gram’s fourth district cham­pi­onship over­all.

The Tigers and Pan­thers took to the turf at HPS Thurs­day with a com­bined 43-1 mark. East Penn, the No. 2 seed, was un­de­feated at 22-0; top-ranked Fleet­wood had suf­fered its only de­feat in its 22 games to 4A fi­nal­ist Gover­nor Mif­flin, in over­time, dur­ing a Berks League semi­fi­nal.

“These girls are self-mo­ti­vated,” Fleet­wood head coach Mike Boyer said. “They didn’t want to go down af­ter los­ing in the Berks semi­fi­nals like that. They were on a mis­sion.”

Se­nior Sarah Criss­man scored two goals, in­clud­ing the ty­ing marker early in the se­cond half and an in­sur­ance tally late. Ju­nior Re­bekah Earnest pot­ted the even­tual game-win­ner, a one-time flick from point-blank range while stay­ing on­side, at 59:50 to give her club a 2-1 lead. Lexi Schoener as­sisted on all three goals.

“Sarah took this team on her shoul­ders and played with a lot of en­ergy,” Boyer said.

Fleet­wood had de­feated North­ern York 2-0, in Her­shey, to win the 2015 crown with many of the same play­ers who fea­tured Thurs­day night.

That core are se­niors now -- and their lead­er­ship was re­quired when East Penn nabbed the first goal of the match at 10:03 when Kasi Brown beat Fleet­wood goal­keeper Ri­ley Scepan­sky from roughly eight yards out. Set up by an East Penn throwin from be­low the 18, the Tigers failed on a pair of clear­ing at­tempts in the box and Brown was the good-for­tune re­cip­i­ent.

East Penn was the firsthalf ag­gres­sor with the lead. Con­cur­rently, the Tigers seemed to be chas­ing their tails a good amount of the time through the first 40.

That changed af­ter the break with a lineup tweak and some tighter mark­ing.

“We got things or­ga­nized a lit­tle bit more de­fen­sively,” Boyer said, “and we switched Sarah and Lexi (Schoener). That cre­ated some scor­ing chances for us.

“We just had to clean things up. We were run­ning, and I don’t know if it was nerves or not, but we were chas­ing the ball a lot in the first half. In the se­cond half, we matched right up with them, and I think our ath­leti­cism paid off for us by stay­ing with our marks and not chas­ing the ball so much.”

Criss­man, who was moved up top, broke through at 47:03 on a leftto-right shot from about eight yards out to beat Pan­thers keeper Lau­ren Dardick. The foray was a crisp one, set up by a per­fectly-weighted pass from Schoener from just out­side the 18.

“Lexi played me a great ball; she saw me and called for it and was able to see me through,” Criss­man said. “I had a good aim and that’s what hap­pened.”

Earnest’s game-win­ner came 12:47 later, with Schoener again as­sist­ing.

“I saw Lexi play it over and I could tell it wasn’t go­ing to make it,” Earnest said. “So I just sprinted at it (the ball) and hoped to get there.”

Criss­man’s brace came at 75:47, re­liev­ing what would have oth­er­wise been a pres­sur­ized clos­ing stretch.

Scepan­sky came up big with a pair of clutch saves with un­der a minute to play in the first half. She de­nied East Penn sniper Han­nah Young twice to keep it a one-goal deficit and get her Tigers to the break down one in­stead of two or three.

“Ri­ley made a lot of good saves,” Boyer said. “She did a good job back there. I was hold­ing my breath a few times and she came up big.”

KIRK NEIDERMYER - FOR DFM

Fleet­wood hoists the tro­phy af­ter win­ning the District III M&T Bank Class 3A Girls Soc­cer Cham­pi­onship at Her­shey­park Sta­dium in Her­shey on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 2, 2017.

KIRK NEIDERMYER - FOR DFM

Fleet­wood’s Re­bekah Earnest cel­e­brates af­ter her goalb­dur­ing the District III M&T Bank Class 3A Girls Soc­cer Cham­pi­onship at Her­shey­park Sta­dium in Her­shey last Thurs­day.

KIRK NEIDERMYER - FOR DFM

Fleet­wood’s Ken­zie Hen­ninger tries to gain con­trol of the ball dur­ing the District III M&T Bank Class 3A Girls Soc­cer Cham­pi­onship at Her­shey­park Sta­dium in Her­shey on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 2, 2017.

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