Penalty kicks lift Mayfield past Berlin

MAYFIELD – The seventh-seeded Mayfield Panthers advanced to the quarterfinals of the Section II Class C tournament in dramatic fashion Wednesday, edging the 10th-seeded Berlin Mountaineers 3-1 on penalty kicks to secure a 3-2 first-round victory.

Mayfield played from behind all night Wednesday, trailing 1-0 after one half of play and 2-1 for 13 minutes late in the second half.

“We fell behind twice and no matter what this group of players just keeps fighting back,” said Mayfield head coach Jon Caraco. “They never feel like they’re out of a game. They’re working really hard for each other.”

The two teams played an even first 20 minutes with a slight edge in possession going to the Panthers. Mayfield looked to get the ball to leading goalscorer Todd Briggs early and often, but Briggs was only able to muster two shots in the half.

“We knew that Briggs was their big scorer,” said Berlin head coach Art Schmidt. “We wanted to concentrate on keeping him down.”

Briggs had a chance in front of the goal following a pass from Matthew Telfer, but whiffed on the kick with 29 minutes remaining in the half.

Following a defensive middle of the half, Berlin’s John Gordon ripped the best shot to that point, over the head of Mayfield goalkeeper Lucas VanNostrand. The shot caromed off the crossbar and out of bounds over the goal. Five minutes later, Matt Montero connected on a header following a corner kick that found the back of the net and gave the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead.

Despite putting together longer and more frequent runs at the goal, Mayfield trailed at the half after outshooting Berlin 6-5.

The Mountaineers could not keep Briggs down for long. Ten minutes into the half Briggs turned quickly toward Berlin goalkeeper Jackson Burhans and fired a shot that went wide of the net. Briggs collected a loose ball in front of the net and put it home to even the score less than one minute later.

The Panthers outpaced the Mountaineers early in the half, but a stroke of bad luck gave Berlin the lead once again with 19 minutes remaining. Zach Spaniol was awarded a direct kick from just outside the box. Spaniol sent the shot over a Mayfield wall and directly into the waiting arms of VanNostrand before the ball popped out with backspin and trickled into the goal. The blunder weighed heavily on VanNostrand who slapped the goalpost out of anger before pleading to his team.

“Pick me up, boys,” VanNostrand urged his teammates.

Briggs did just that 13 minutes later, converting from close range to knot the score at two apiece. The teams traded shots on goal late in the half looking for a game-winner to no avail.

The Mountaineers, outplayed in the second half after a good first half effort, came out and looked like the stronger team through two 15-minute overtime periods. Berlin outshot Mayfield 8-0 in the periods. The best chance to end it all came when Dustin Fiske rocketed a ball that skimmed across the ground and went just wide of the left post.

Following two scoreless overtime periods, the Panthers used goals by Josh Ivancic, Briggs, and Jordan VanNostrand to win the penalty kick battle. Lucas VanNostrand saved three of the four penalty kicks he faced from Berlin, including the game-clincher off the foot of Fiske.

“He’s [Lucas VanNostrand] a senior and his leadership in the back has been outstanding this year,” said Caraco. “We did some practice yesterday on PK’s knowing that at any point the game can come down to that situation.”

Berlin’s season comes to and end following a 10-4-1 regular season and a second place finish in the Central Hudson Valley League.

“I was really pleased with the way we moved the ball tonight,” said Schmidt. “We had some opportunities where we did well but we just didn’t finish, but at least we were moving the ball and creating those opportunities.”

The Panthers will face the second-seeded Maple Hill Wildcats in the next round of the tournament after Maple Hill eliminated 15th-seeded Doane Stuart, 2-1 in overtime, Wednesday.

“If we look in the history books, Maple Hill is perhaps the strongest Class C program in Section II,” said Caraco. “From what I understand, we’ve got some team speed that they might not be able to match, so we’re going to try to get by them with some speed.”

The game will take place Friday at 3 p.m. with the location to be announced.