BY JEFF FALK
MILLERSVILLE – Just because it’s the best way to settle a deadlocked contest, doesn’t mean it’s not cruel.
But P.K.s can also signify other things. They can mean a season has been taken to a limit, and that a supreme effort was required to end it.
On Saturday afternoon at Penn Manor’s Comet Field, in the quarterfinals of the District Three Class AAA tournament, the Cedar Crest girls’ soccer team fell one flown penalty kick short of its season-long goal of qualifying for the PIAA playoffs. The Falcons were outscored 6-5 by Conestoga Valley in penalty kicks, after 80 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime had ended in a one-all draw.
With the loss, 15th-seeded Cedar Crest concluded its campaign at 11-7-3 overall. Conestoga Valley, the seventh seed which had defeated the Falcons by similar 2-1 and 1-0 scores during the Lancaster-Lebanon Section One regular season, advanced to Tuesday’s semifinal round.
The Falcons’ setback also ended their fifth straight appearance in the District Three Class AAA postseason.
“It was such a hard-fought game, such an even game,” said Cedar Crest rookie head coach Jon Burkholder. “P.K.s can be so cruel. You hope the game is decided in overtime or regulation.
“The thing that stands out about penalty kicks is that both teams shot fantastic in them,” continued Burkholder. “It was goal after goal. It was back and forth. But someone had to miss.”
Thanks to a sprawling save by freshman goalkeeper Desiree Leffler and successful kicks from Cece Fiorentino, and Carli Wasson, the Falcons forged a 2-1 edge in the penalty kicks. But the Buckskins notched the next five straight, and when Cedar Crest misfired on the 14th PK overall, the decision went the way of the Buckskins.
Also converting penalty kicks for Cedar Crest were Emma Moreland, Sydney Laicha and Emily Poff.
“I trust our team and I trusted our kickers,” said Burkholder. “You didn’t want to see your team in pain. The game wasn’t lost in P.K.s. In regulation, we weren’t able to put them away.
“If someone would’ve told me at the beginning of the season that we going to lose in penalty kicks in the district quarterfinals, I would’ve told them ‘You’re crazy’,” said Burkholder. “It was a fantastic year. They (his players) have a lot to be proud of. They’re probably not going to think about it today or tomorrow, but as time goes on they’ll appreciate it. We tried to embrace every day, every step together.”
The Falcons jumped out to a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the affair.
Junior Ariel Jones ran on to a through ball from senior Cece Fiorentino. After collecting herself and taking her time, Jones used her left foot to beat Conestoga Valley goalie Lauren Yoder.
“I thought she did a good job when she was cut off,” said Burkholder of A.J.. “She showed a lot of patience and used her left foot, which is her non-dominant foot.
‘You take the attitude, you play who’s ever next,” continued Burkholder. “If you get to pick, you pick a team you haven’t played before. We had played with them (the Buckskins) throughout the season. It was a close game. It was a hard fought game.”
The Buckskins knotted the score three minutes into the second half. Zoe Shelly’s hard cross from left to right found Emily Clapper charging to the net.
“Desiree (Leffler) had another great game,” said Burkholder. “She has stepped up tremendously. I didn’t anticipate she would play as solidly as she has.
Cedar Crest didn’t record its first shot of the second half until 37:40 of it had elapsed. It would be the only shot the Falcons could muster until P.K.s began.
“In the second half and the overtimes, Conestoga Valley had a couple more chances than us,” said Bukholder. “They did a great job of serving balls into the box. We told the girls during P.K.s to embrace the moment. We tried to give them the attitude of ‘no pressure’. It happens, and they’re kids.
“The last couple of overtimes, fatigue was a factor for both teams,” added Burkholder. “It affected the outcome, but it didn’t favor either team. Both teams looked tired.”
In the final tally, Conestoga Valley out shot Cedar Crest 13-5. Each team attempted a pair of corner kicks.
“I’m so proud of the team,” said Burkholder. “I’m so proud of this group of seniors. They were great leaders. They led us positively the whole season. I’m really happy and proud.
‘It all started four or five years ago, when we won back-to-back Lancaster-Lebanon league titles,” Burkholder added. “We built off that, and we can build off this.”
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Section One Standings
2015 Cedar Crest Girls’ Soccer Results
|4:00 PM||L 0-1|
|10:00 AM||T 0-0|
|4:00 PM||L 0-2|
|7:00 PM||W 1-0|
|5:15 PM||W 3-0|
|4:00 PM||W 4-1|
|4:00 PM||L 0-3|
|4:00 PM||L 1-2|
|4:00 PM||W 3-1|
|7:00 PM||W 4-1|
|7:00 PM||W 1-0|
|7:00 PM||T 0-0|
|4:00 PM||W 2-1|
|7:00 PM||W 3-0|
|4:00 PM||T 3-3|
|10:00 AM||L 0-2|
|7:00 PM||L 0-1|
|7:00 PM||W 8-0|
|7:00 PM||W 2-1|
|5:00 PM||W 2-1|
|12:00 PM||L 1-2|