By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
At regional tournament time, especially the regional finals, the margin for error drops to virtually zero.
Especially in overtime.
Penn emerged victorious over Northridge, 2-1 on penalty kicks, in the championship game of the Class 2A Goshen Regional on Saturday.
Northridge coach Bill Redinger said the loss was a tough pill to swallow for his senior-laden team.
"This game was everything a regional championship game should be," Redinger said. "Two evenly-matched teams battling to the end. ... We had some opportunities, but we couldn't convert."
Both teams sized each other up warily throughout a first half that saw neither team mount anything resembling a serious threat.
The Kingsmen got their one and only goal of regulation at the 34:02 mark of the second half when Mikaylah Woods punched in a cross by Jensen Stroinski.
Northridge looked to have equalized within a minute, but the goal was waved off on an offside call.
The Raiders mounted a furious push in the final five minutes, with several excellent opportunities denied by Penn goalkeeper Ashley Waite. But in the 79th minute – with the Raiders’ season on the brink of ending with a 1-0 loss – the Raiders got a break, and – like any good team – capitalized on it.
A handball call on Penn in the penalty box in the 79th minute created a penalty kick situation … and it was the Raiders’ Brianne O’Dell putting the ball in the upper left corner of the net to tie the contest and send it to extra time.
Neither team could find the net in either the first or second extra period.
The Kingsmen (16-4-1) prevailed 4-2 in the penalty kick round. Penn brought in senior goalkeeker Maya Solomon in just to defend the Northridge penalty kicks.
It's a role Solomon had been ready for all season, but never was called upon to fill.
"There's really no technique to it," Solomon said. "You just guess which way the ball's going to go, and hope you guess right."
Penn coach Jeff Hart was proud of his team's response to the late tie.
"That was a challenge for us," Hart said. "We had to regroup a bit, and we did that."
The Raiders finish at 16-2-2 and will say goodbye to seniors Julina Skow, Allison Heign, Christina Juroff, Mikaela Zook, Evelyn Cover, Kara Kershner, Jaymee Bowers, Brianne O’Dell and Lauren Blyly.
Penn moves on to next weekend’s Class 2A South Bend St. Joseph Semistate against the winner of the Logansport Regional final between Fishers and McCutcheon.