MERCERSBURG >> All night long, James Buchanan's girls soccer team peppered shots at Lancaster Mennonite's goalkeeper.
She stopped all but one of them, so it was pretty fitting that when it came down to the shootout and the sixth and final penalty kick by the Rockets, Kate Phillips came up big.
"I had total confidence in her to be the hero," Blazer coach Andrew Keener said.
Phillips donned her superhero cape when a Rocket shot came her way, and she made the easy grab, sending Lancaster Mennonite to a 2-1 victory over James Buchanan in a District 3 Class AA play-in game.
The Blazers (8-7-2) advance to face Fleetwood (15-1-3) on Monday at 5 p.m. in the first round, while James Buchanan finishes with a 10-9 record.
"Am I disappointed that we're not playing Monday? Sure," Rocket coach Terry Appleby said. "But I'm not discouraged by anything we did tonight."
Although the Rockets played catch-up for most of the game – Lancaster Mennonite's Calla Ashley scored just five minutes into the contest – they actually controlled possession and had several fine opportunities.
JB racked up 20 shots, 10 of which were on goal. But Phillips was like a brick wall.
"I think I had really good communication with the team," Phillips said. "They had some really good forwards who would sometimes get in behind our players. With anything, there is breakdowns, but I felt like I was good at talking with the defenders. Communication is what builds the team."
The Rockets were so strong offensively that Lancaster Mennonite was forced to change its formation. The Blazers started with three defenders on the back line, but pushed a fourth back midway through the first half and stayed in that formation for the duration.
"JB was excellent on the counter," Keener said. "They were great at reading when to step and then attacking us and pressing. We switched formation because of that. Because of our shape, they were able to exploit that and put us on our back foot."
James Buchanan got a fine chance from Madison Peck nearing the end of the first half, but a jumping save by Phillips let the Blazers go into halftime with a one-goal advantage.
Midway through the second half, the Rockets finally broke through on an amazing individual effort by Breanna Dukehart. She got the ball just inside the Rocket attacking third, juked around four defenders and buried a shot inside the right corner of the net.
"When you look at scoring, which is not easy to do or we'd all be doing it, that was a huge goal for us," Appleby said. "She's pretty good at beating players like that."
The Rockets then had to clamp down defensively, as Lancaster Mennonite made a big push directly after the goal. JB was helped along by a pair of saves off the goal line by defender Elivia Kipe.
"I'm not gonna lie, it was extremely difficult to defend them," Kipe said. "I just gave it my best, and I knew the team had my back on every play. Our big goal tonight was to make sure that everyone gave 100 percent effort, and I know we can leave here saying that."
Haley Alger and Dukehart both had goals in penalty kicks, and the Rockets hit the crossbar on two shots that stayed out. The Blazers got scores from Katie Will, Marisa Hoober and Holly Martin to ensure the victory.
Lancaster Mennonite 2 James Buchanan 1, PKs
First half — (LM) Calla Ashley, 5th min.
Second half — (JB) Breanna Dukehart, 61st.
Penalty kicks — (LM) Katie Will, Marisa Hoober, Holly Martin, (JB) Haley Alger, Dukehart.
Shots — LM 8, JB 20; Shots on goal — LM 4, JB 10; Corner kicks — LM 3, JB 6; Saves — LM 9 (Kate Phillips, 2 saves in PKs), JB 3 (Nina Shatzer).