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 throw-in 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 first-half 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 left-to-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.”
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