MISHAWAKA — When the girls soccer sectional draw came out, it appeared a strong possibility that Penn and Northridge would play for the Class 3A sectional championship at Penn High School.
That matchup will take place, as both teams advanced into the finals after posting semifinal wins on Thursday.
The No. 9-ranked Kingsmen blanked Elkhart Central, 4-0, while the Raiders used a strong second half to upend Elkhart Memorial, 3-0.
When Penn (12-5-2) and Northridge (10-5-2) meet on Saturday at 7 p.m. the Kingsmen will be looking for their 13th straight sectional title, while the Raiders are in search of their third straight sectional championship.
Penn is playing in a new sectional this year against Elkhart County schools.
During the regular season, the Kingsmen beat the Raiders, 2-0.
"I think it will be a really good game," said Northridge coach Chris Malott. "We played them early in the year and it was 0-0 at the half. (Northridge goalie) Hope (Stacker) was sick all that weekend so we were kind of figuring some things out. It was a rough start to the season for us. That was our fourth loss against four top 15 teams in a matter of a couple days. Our morale was a little iffy and we were trying to still figure out our formation and player positions because we graduated seven players.
"I'm looking forward to playing Penn and I think we have a legit shot at the game."
The second meeting between Northridge and Memorial on Thursday was much more competitive than the regular season match when the Raiders won 7-1.
At halftime, the Crimson Chargers and Raiders were scoreless.
"I just wanted our team to relax," said Malott about his team's halftime message. "We knew that (Memorial) was going to have a different defensive strategy. They put 10 players on their half and kind of kept one on top a little bit. We had chances and we were going to create more. We changed formation a little bit to give us more numbers to go up against the girls they were keeping back and that seemed to work for us in the second half."
Northridge wasted little time in the second half to take a 1-0 lead, as Lauren Kollat took the ball from two defenders and scored just outside the goalie box with 37:57 left in the game.
About four minutes later, the Raiders struck again offensively when Maddy Wienert scored from five yards off an assist from Ella Yoder.
Wienert missed some time in the first half after spraining her ankle.
"Just a slight sprain," Malott said about the injury.
Northridge's final goal came on a 25-yard free kick from Leah Stacker with 4:24 left in the match.
Memorial, which was outshot, 20-6, had all three of its shots in the second half stopped by Northridge goalie Hope Stacker.
The Crimson Chargers had a great chance three minutes into the first half to score, but were unable to convert, as Jessica Dibley saw her shot from five yards go wide left.
"We prepared better," said Memorial coach Donald Knowlton when asked why the second meeting against Northridge was closer. "My girls were tuned in and focused. We made a couple of errors in this game and they're a strong team and they pass well."
Knowlton, who was the Memorial girls soccer coach for 10 years, announced after the game that he won't apply for the girls soccer job when Elkhart Memorial and Elkhart Central combine next fall.
"I would like to thank the people connected with the Elkhart Memorial girls soccer program," Knowlton said. "I look forward to watching (the girls soccer program) on the sideline when the two schools merge," Knowlton said. "I don't think I'm the right person for the job."
In the first semifinal, Penn got two goals from Sophia Lenfestey and one each from Olivia Kalil and Courtney Sharpe.
Lenfestey's first goal, which came off a Kayla Leady free kick from 30 yards, gave the Kingsmen a 2-0 lead with 12:24 left in the first half.
"I thought we came out with a little energy tonight and a lot of focus," said Penn coach Jeff Hart, whose squad beat Central, 2-0, during the regular season.
The Kingsmen, who substituted often in the match, outshot the Blue Blazers, 18-3.
"(Penn) has got a roster of 25 players," said Central coach Rick Nussbaum. "We're still putting out eight to nine freshmen that aren't tested yet.
"Penn's athleticism all across the field makes it really hard for you to keep the ball under control (offensively). Also, we can't sub five at a time like they're doing. It's hard to match that energy on the field when they're rotating players through."
PENN 4, ELKHART CENTRAL 0
P - Olivia Kalil 19th minute.
P - Sophia Lenfestey (Kayla Leady assist) 28th.
P - Courtney Sharpe (Emily Kehoe) 74th.
P - Lenfestey (Allison Funk) 77th.
Shots on goal: Penn 18, Central 3. Goalie saves: Penn (Abbie Clay, Isabella Costa) 0; Central (Harmony Whitaker) 5. Corner kicks: Penn 8, Central 0.
Records: Penn 12-5-2, Central 9-8-1.
NORTHRIDGE 3, ELKHART MEMORIAL 0
N - Lauren Kollat 43rd minute
N - Maddy Wienert (Ella Yoder assist) 47th.
N - Leah Stacker 76th.
Shots on goal: Northridge 20, Memorial 6. Goalie saves: Northridge (Hope Stacker) 3; Memorial (Riley Reitz Lloyd) 8. Corner kicks: Northridge 7, Memorial 1.
Records: Northridge 10-5-2, Memorial 5-10-1.
IHSAA SOCCER SECTIONAL FINALS
Elkhart Central vs. Northridge, 2 p.m.
At Bethany Christian
Elkhart Christian vs. Bethany Christian, 2 p.m.
Northridge vs. Penn, 7 p.m.
NorthWood vs. DeKalb 7 p.m.
Bethany Christian vs. Lakeland Christian, 7 p.m.