ELKHART — Northridge and Penn withstood second-half flurries and earned victories Thursday in the semifinals of the IHSAA Class 3A Elkhart Sectional 4 girls soccer tournament.
Penn (8-8-1) edged Concord 4-3 and Northridge (9-6-1) held off Elkhart 1-0 for the right to meet in the sectional championship match at 2 p.m. Saturday on the former Elkhart Memorial football field on the Elkhart West campus.
The Kingsmen and Raiders were supposed to meet in a regular-season tournament, but it was canceled.
Penn has 18 sectional titles, including 13 in a row. Northridge has raised the sectional trophy on five occasions, the last being in 2018.
Penn 4, Concord 3
After edging the Minutemen 2-1 on Aug. 25, the Kingsmen earned another one-goal victory.
Penn potted the decisive goal in the 61st minute. Junior Mandy Baker ricocheted the ball off the bar and senior Hannah Roberson put the rebound in the net to put the Kingsmen ahead 4-3.
“Penn is a really well-coached team,” Concord coach Adam Kirkpatrick said. “They’ve had a lot of consistency with their players. They’re organized and have a lot of soccer experience.”
Concord (7-6-3) pulled even at 3-all in the 49th minute when sophomore Katherine Lopez-Cruz scored on a rebound chance caused by a crashing junior Jada Swanson.
Swanson’s free kick in the 39th minute helped the Minutemen go to halftime down 3-2.
“(Concord) is extremely-disciplined,” Penn coach Jeff Hart said. “They don’t get out of playing hard. They counter and give credit effort. In high school sports, if you give good effort, you always have a chance.”
The Kingsmen’s third goal of the first half was scored by senior Sophia Lenfestey on a pass in the 28th minute from senior Ragan Redding and it was 3-1 in favor of Penn.
Swanson’s breakaway goal in the 25th minute cut Penn’s advantage to 2-1.
Senior Sydney Domal netted the Kingsmen’s first two goals. She converted a throw-in from senior Mary Kaczynski in the 4th minute and then scored on a penalty kick in the 13th minute.
Hart knew that lead might not be safe against the tenacious Minutemen.
“Up 2-0 you can’t coast,” Hart said.
“2-0’s a dangerous lead to have,” Kirkpatrick said. “We made some adjustments. We went a little more offensive with our lineup and our formations. Once we changed that up a little bit we had some more offensive opportunities.
“(Senior) McKenna DeFreese was the one pushing them up and that was the difference in getting some offensive pressure for us.”
The Kingsmen applied plenty of pressure and produced 12 corner kicks and had a number of free kicks.
Penn sophomore goalkeeper Lily Smith made three saves and Concord senior goalie Kendal Swartout made 12 stops. Swartout is a four-year starter who will leave the program atop the school saves list.
Graduation will take five Minutemen — DeFreese, Swartout, Rylee Brenneman, Riley Cooper and Carlee Lantz.
Northridge 1, Elkhart 0
Northridge led 1-0 when senior Maddy Wienert scored in the 39th minute on a pass from freshman Morgan Cross.
Elkhart, which defeated Northridge 3-2 Aug. 25, had the ball in the offensive zone frequently in the final stages of Thursday’s contest, but could not break through for a score.
Lions junior Macy Metcalf was just off-target with a sprinting attack in the 68th minute.
A free kick by Elkhart sophomore Savannah Tully went just wide of the net in the 80th minute.
The Raiders had beaten Goshen 1-0 in the first round of the sectional on a second-half goal by Wienert.
“We had real good ball movement. We finally got wide,” said Northridge coach Chris Malott of the sequence that led to Wienert’s team-leading 12th goal of 2020. “This field is real narrow, so to find space out wide you have to pull people out position, which is really tough. We were able to feed a few through balls.”
Malott talked about protecting the lead at the end of the match.
‘You drop numbers,” Malott said. “You’re up with that much time to go in the ball game, you put a couple of extra defenders back there to get the ball and clear it.”
Malott looked ahead to Saturday’s sectional championship.
“Penn moved the ball around nicely (against Concord),” Malott said. “They’ve got a deep bench.”
A first-half injury to sophomore Alesandra Aguilera left the Lions without a key player.
“She’s typically our free-kick specialist,” said Elkhart coach Rick Nussbaum, whose team finished 6-8-1. “Without her out there, it really hurt us.”
This is the first season of athletic consolidation for Elkhart, which had no seniors, four juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen in its starting lineup.
Lions junior keeper Harmony Whitaker made eight saves and also came out of the net to challenge a Northridge rush.
Raiders senior goalie Alex Sheets made four stops.
3A ELKHART SECTIONAL
PENN 4, CONCORD 3
P — Sydney Domal (Mary Kaczynski assist) 4th minute.
P — Domal (penalty kick) 13th.
C — Jada Swanson (unassisted) 25th.
P — Sophia Lenfestey (Ragan Redding) 28th.
C — Swanson (free kick) 39th.
C — Katherine Lopez-Cruz (Swanson) 49th.
P — Hannah Roberson (Mandy Baker) 61st.
Shots on goal: Penn 14, Concord 6.
Goalie saves: Penn — Lily Smith 3; Concord — Kendal Swartout 12.
Corners: Penn 12, Concord 1.
Records: Penn 8-8-2, Concord 7-6-3.
NORTHRIDGE 1, ELKHART 0
N — Maddy Wienert (Morgan Cross assist) 39th minute.
Shots on goal: Northridge 9, Elkhart 4.
Goalie saves: Northridge — Alex Sheets 4; Elkhart — Harmony Whitaker 8.
Corners: Elkhart 3, Northridge 2.
Records: Northridge 9-6-1, Elkhart 6-8-1.