SPRINGFIELD — The celebration for Lansdale Catholic erupted on the field at Cardinal O'Hara The Crusaders had matched Lancaster Mennonite, 1-1 through 110 minutes of tense soccer and outlasted the Blazers, 4-3, in penalty kicks in the PIAA Class 2A boys soccer tournament. As the jubilant players poured through the gate to celebrate with fans and family, a exhausted voice from the group let out an expression of relief and satisfaction.
Lansdale Catholic (9-4-3) had faced Lancaster Mennonite in the first round of the state tournament in each of the last two seasons. The Crusaders erased two years of first-round exits and disappointments when Sean Cole stepped up to the line and buried the clinching penalty kick, joining Owen Webster, Jimmy Alff and Declan Mahoney with successful conversions.
"Credit to them," Lansdale Catholic coach Casey Farrell said of his players. "They didn't panic in the second half, in both overtimes, in PKs. They're ice cold."
Cole had given Lansdale Catholic a 1-0 lead, punching in a rebound that stemmed from a chance off a Crusader throw-in in the 38th minute.
Lancaster Mennonite (12-6-2) answered in the final moments of the first half. Cameron Hoober drew a foul and put home the penalty kick to tie the game, 1-1, heading into the break.
"My guys kept battling," said Lancaster Mennonite coach Fred Winey. "We were down, and they've been a resilient bunch all year long. We just couldn't quite get on the end of any of our opportunities."
Throughout the second half and two overtime periods, neither team could solve the other's defense. Lansdale Catholic's Kellan Ward (eight saves) and Lancaster Mennonite's Dominic France (five saves) kept everything in front of them through the final buzzer.
After falling behind 2-0 in penalty kicks, Lancaster Mennonite rallied with successful bids from Hoober, Noah Swartzentruber and Matthew Sampsell to tie the series, 3-3, before Cole's clincher.
"We lost some significant players from the last two years," Winey said, "and these guys stepped in really well and gave it their all. That's all I could ever ask for."
In Class A
Lancaster Country Day 1, McConnellsburg 1 (Lancaster Country Day won, 4-3, in penalty kicks): The Cougars (14-5-2) answered an early 1-0 deficit with a goal from Ryan Nguyen in the fourth minute. Nguyen, Alex Vine, Cameron Young and Grant Gilbert converted their penalty kicks, and Mike Korenkiewicz made eight saves to help Country Day advance to Saturday's quarterfinal, opposite Winchester Thurston, a 7-0 winner over Bishop Carroll, at a site and time to be determined.
Landon Seiders scored the goal for the previously unbeaten Spartans (21-1) and converted a penalty kick alongside Garrett Bunch and Bryce Kylor.