Lancaster Mennonite returns PK favor to Fleetwood in District 3 semifinal

HERSHEY>> A year ago, the Fleetwood Tigers knocked Lancaster Mennonite out of the District 3 Class AA playoffs on penalty kicks.

Monday night at Hersheypark Stadium, in the exact same spot, the Blazers returned the favor.

Lancaster Mennonite advanced to Thursday’s D-3 AA final by downing the Tigers in PKs 4-2, following 110 minutes of scoreless soccer in the bracket semifinal.

Fleetwood will take on Susquehannock — 3-0 losers to Gettysburg — in the third place game on Saturday, with a PIAA berth on the line.

Senior Chase Ross sent Mennonite to the AA final against Gettysburg with a worm-burner to the lower right corner of the net to clinch the skills competition, after neither team could not manage to score through regulation and two 15-minute overtimes.

Fleetwood had two PKs miss the target during the best-of-5 session — one on a diving save by Mennonite goalie Nate Flanders; the other on a mis-hit strike that sailed high and wide.

“My first thought when I saw the ball go in was to give Nate a hug,” Ross said. “We did our job and he did his job and it worked out.”

Ross said he targeted a ground strike on his clinching kick.

“Sometimes (PKs) are a routine, sometimes it’s the goalie’s direction,” he said. “That’s where I wanted it to go. PKs are nothing new to us. I wasn’t nervous and I don’t think our team was nervous. We definitely wanted to win this game — not on PKs — but a win’s a win. They’re a good and we’re a good team.”

In a match largely devoid of book-able stats but not quality chances, Fleetwood head coach Keith Schlegel watched the Blazers do the turnaround on his club, a year later.

“It’s two quality teams and we sort of play the same systems,” Schlegel said. “We weren’t good enough in the offensive third tonight. I thought we played well, actually, but we gave up too many chances at the end of regulation and we were too nervous in front of the goal at times.

“I thought we could have shot more in the first half. We had opportunities to do so.”

Fleetwood and Mennonite battled through a shotless first half full of 50-50 balls but lacking in pace, possession, link-up and execution. Neither team registered a shot on goal until the 50th minute, when a header in the box by Mennonite’s Nicolas Herrerias was saved by Mason Kersge. The Tigers sent their first shot on target toward Flanders less than a minute later.

Fleetwood, as has been customary for the season, alternated Kersge and Kyle Kierstad in net. Kierstad started the game and finished the first half; Kersge played to second half. The first OT went to Kierstad; Kersge manned the net in the second 15-minute extra session. Kierstad was back in goal for the shootout.

“Not one of them is better than other one,” Schlegel explained. “All year. They’re both good goalies. We’ve given up five goals all year.”

Kersge was called upon to make a punch-stop on the best shot of the night, a missile from Herrerias in the 73rd minute from just inside the box on the right-hand side.

Flanders made a sliding snuff on a breakaway, just outside the box in the 98th minute, before a shot could be attempted.

The Tigers outshot the Blazers 5-4.


Fleetwood –  0  0  0  0 — 0

Lancaster Mennonite –  0  0  0  0 — 0

(LM wins on PKs, 4-2)

Shots on goal

F 5, LM 4


F 8, LM 4


F (Kyle Kierstad 0, Mason Kresge 4) 4, LM (Nate Flanders) 5.


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