Elco vs. Mechanicsburg - Distict 3 3A girls soccer championship

Elco's Emily Miller (17) takes a shot on the Mechanicsburg goal during first overtime action of a District 3 3A girls soccer championship game at Hersheypark Stadium Thursday Nov. 4, 2021.

HERSHEY — Penalty kicks giveth. Penalty kicks taketh away.

Advancing to the District Three 3A championship game with a penalty kick victory in Monday evening’s semifinals, the Elco girls soccer team saw their championship dream perish in a penalty kick loss to defending champion Mechanicsburg Thursday night at Hersheypark Stadium.

The final tally was three PKs for the Wildcats (17-3-2), two for the Raiders. The only times in 110 minutes that the ball found the back of the net in an otherwise scoreless match.

“We were fortunate enough to advance through it the other night,” Raiders coach Derek Fulk said. “Tonight it went the other way. I thought we gave our great effort. It’s unfortunate that that’s the way it ends.”

In the alternating PK format Elco (16-4) went first and in, perhaps, a harbinger of how things would go, the Raiders first shooter, Carsyn Boyer, unleashed a rocket towards the right corner. It hit the right post.

“She stepped up,” said Wildcats keeper Arriel Frey, “and I thought ‘I’ve got to make a statement at the beginning of penalty kicks.’ And I picked the right way.”

She did lunge in the correct direction, but wouldn’t have arrived in time to stop the shot had it tucked inside the post. But it did not.

“I don’t know if that was a shocker for the rest of the kickers,” said Fulk, “but it just wasn’t our night for sure.”

Halle Engle, the Wildcats top scorer, gave her side a lift, drilling her shot through the heart of the goal.

Frey stopped Carley Kleinfelter trying to go top shelf, but the ‘Cats Alex Black sent her shot over the frame.

Elco’s Carley Kleinfelter (11) and Mechanicsburg’s Aristothoula Michelitch meet for the header during first-half action of the District Three Class 3A girls soccer championship game at Hersheypark Stadium on Thursday. 

The Raiders Abby Sargent and Kailey Eckhart sandwiched goals around Alayna Williams’ goal, Sargent low in the right corner, Eckhart low in the left, and Elco pulled even with Emily K. Miller still to go.

As her team’s fourth shooter Frey fired low left, ricocheting the ball off the back support of the frame. It became the gamewinning shot when she stopped Emily K. Miller’s strike. “I just did what I could to help my team win the game,” she said.

For a game with no scoring, it was not without opportunities. The Wildcats finished with five corners and nine shots on goal. Always a threat to score at any moment, Engle had 14 shots, seven on goal, but didn’t crack the score sheet. She came close, pulling an open look way left in the 60th minute and hitting the post in the 75th.

“It’s almost like she gets half a chance and she’s dangerous,” said Fulk. “The one she hit wide, I thought that was going in!”

With seven of their nine corners and four of their five shots on goal coming in the second half the Raiders set the pace, but couldn’t score. “We were creating chances,” Fulk said, “It seemed we couldn’t get that one in the back of the net."

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