SPRING GROVE -- Dallastown field hockey coach Jeri Myers implored her forward, Julia Snyder, to get her shots closer to the cage in Wednesday night's York-Adams League semifinal clash with Division II champion West York.
When Snyder finally took her coach's advice, it paid off.
Snyder got a quick crack inside the circle early in the second half and, instead of shooting wide, put one right on the mark. The ball skipped past Bulldog goalie Cassidy McCauley's legs and into the net, breaking a scoreless tie.
Paige Barefoot, who was playing her first game after a nasty finger injury a couple weeks ago, added an insurance marker later in the half, helping the Wildcats earn a 2-0 victory at Spring Grove High School.
The Division I champions (18-0-1) will get a third showdown with rival Red Lion (a 4-2 winner over Bermudian Springs in the other semifinal) at 5 p.m. Thursday back at Spring Grove. Dallastown, which won both of the regular season-match-ups with the Lions, will attempt to stop Red Lion's two-year reign as league champion.
"She was aiming between the 12-foot line," Myers said while Snyder fielded questions about her goal.
The goal fended off some mounting frustration for the Wildcats, who dominated play, including a 15-4 edge in penalty corners.
"Usually when we score, that's like our fire," Snyder said. "We just had to break through."
Breaking through was a problem for Myers' squad. They had numerous chances to cash in over the entire first half. There were at least a handful of scoring opportunities that ended with shots sailing just wide of the cage, which was a point of contention for the veteran Dallastown coach.
"We were just wide, wide," Myers said. "I told (Julia) at halftime, 'Julia ... you went wide four times. Put it between 12 feet.' And she did."
Myers is well aware that a similar problem finishing plays might be a serious problem against the Lions (17-2-0) in the finals.
"It's the game of hockey," she said. "You just have to cash in and not to hit so many wide. I felt we should have had three goals in the first half. That's how much we were down there and had good shots on goal. Their goalie played very nicely."
Myers was happy that Barefoot, who only restarted practicing with the team Monday, was able to make a difference against the Bulldogs. Barefoot ironically suffered her injury at the same Spring Grove venue in a contest against the Rockets three weeks ago.
"It was nice having Paige back to play with us," Myers said. "This was her first game back in 21/2 weeks. She had a compound fracture in her little finger and the bone was sticking out. So it was exciting that she got to score."
Now the Wildcats will get a chance to seek some revenge against a Red Lion squad that upset them in the first league title contest a couple years ago. Dallastown, which has dominated Division I over the past decade, failed to qualify for last year's tournament, which was also won by the Lions.
"It's a big rivalry," Snyder said. "This will be our third time playing them. We played them (two) years ago in the championship and we lost, so our theme this year has been to get revenge in the championship."
Myers is cautiously optimistic that her team will finally be able to call themselves league champions Thursday night.
"We'll see," Myers said. "(Thursday) is going to be interesting. It's going to be a good game. Both teams have quality players out there."
Lions triumph: Red Lion will play for its third York-Adams title in a row, but it wasn't easy against Division III champion Bermudian Springs.
Coach Carol Gillmen's team trailed 2-1 at the half, but rallied in the second half with three tallies to earn a 4-2 victory.
"We're excited," Gillmen said. "To win the county championship, you have to play relentless and that's been sort of our theme the last couple of years."
The Lions dominated the stat sheet, but Gillmen knows that her team won't be able to waste as many chances Thursday as they had against the Eagles. The Lions held a 16-8 edge in shots on goal and earned a remarkable 13 penalty corners to Bermudian's two.
"Bermudian is a great team," Gillmen said. "They have a great passing game and some forwards that can really score. But when we get the opportunities our forwards have to put it away."
Back-to-back goals just 36 seconds apart from Paige Taylor and Ali Posey in the final four minutes sealed the Lions' comeback victory.
"I was glad to see our team respond," Gillmen said. "We held it together and kept up the pressure offensively. And you could see that there at the end, and that's what we tend to do best."
Now the Lions will look to continue their domination of the league playoffs. Red Lion has never lost since the format was started three years ago.
Morgan Kuehne scored the second of her two goals on the night a little more than four minutes into the final half to even the contest. Lion goalie Gabby Uberti recorded five saves in the victory. The Eagles got goals 15 minutes apart in the back end of the first half from Alyssa McCreary and MacKenzie Farley. Bermudian goalie Sarah Crane had 12 saves.
OTHER FIELD HOCKEY
GETTYSBURG 6, LIT TLESTOWN 2: At Gettysburg, the Thunderbolts trailed 4-1 at the half and never were able to recover in the non-league match up. Dawn Kraus led the Thunderbolts with one goal and one assist. Gettysburg won the JV match, 2-0.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.