The West York boys' soccer team has often been the team to beat in York-Adams Division II in recent years.
Coming off a runner-up finish to York Suburban a year ago, however, the Bulldogs have been chomping at the bit to return to the top spot.
Even though it's still early in the season, the Bulldogs appear primed to add another division crown to the ones they won in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
West York took another step toward that goal Thursday when it hosted an up-and-coming Northeastern program. Jared May scored with just under seven minutes left in the first half, while John Prego added an insurance tally on a rebound with 40 seconds left in the half.
Those two scores were the lone goals of the night in the Bulldogs' 2-0 victory.
"We know now that people are going to be gunning for us," Prego said. "So we have got to come out with the same intensity for every game, every play. And that's why we are where we are."
West York improved to 3-0-1 overall and 3-0 in Division II. The Bobcats, who compiled a 4-28 record over the past two seasons, fell to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the division.
"Last year we were fighting for that top spot," West York coach Dan Klinedinst said. "So this is a great start to the season. We just have a long uphill road now. And like I said, everyone is going to be gunning for us."
After playing for roughly 10 minutes of the first half, the contest was suspended because of a heavy thunderstorm that rolled through the area. Both teams sat in the West York Middle School cafeteria for more than an hour while it was being determined whether or not to continue the contest.
After play resumed, it was West York that had the better of the play. The Bulldogs had an 8-3 edge in shots on goal in the first half. It wasn't until the final 10 minutes of the half, however, that the Bulldogs were able to gain separation.
May's score was set up by a perfect feed from freshman Eddie Rodriguez, who delivered the ball to an open May on the right half of the field. May took a few dribbles before slicing a perfect shot inside the left portion of the goal.
But it was Prego's tally that was the back-breaker. Pablo Quintanilla put a shot on net that Northeastern goalie Devin Soop briefly corralled. The ball, however, trickled out of Soop's grasp, which allowed Prego to chip the ball into the open net.
"From the angle that Pablo was coming from, I knew with the grass being all slippery, that there was a chance that the ball was going to come free," Prego said. "So I just delayed and waited right there, got my chance and just poked it in."
Northeastern coach Bryan Stephens sensed that Prego's goal deflated his club a little.
"Having them taking the lead like that to end the first half can be demoralizing," said Stephens, who is back in the coaching ranks for the first time since taking over as the Northeastern athletic director. "And you could see it on their faces. We were down. And we started out the first five minutes of the second half a little flat."
Stephens' team, however, did all they could to try to chip away at the deficit in the second half. Northeastern held a 4-0 edge in shots on goal in the second half, but couldn't find a way to get a ball past the West York defense and Bulldog goalie Darian McCauley.
"We got 'er down there, but we just couldn't put it in," Stephens said. "And I'm extremely happy, because in the past, in my opinion, this very easily could have been a 4- or 5-0 game. So we have something to build on here. We never said we were going to go undefeated. We're still learning as a soccer team."
Soop finished with six saves, while McCauley made seven stops.
OTHER BOYS' SOCCER
EASTERN 3, DOVER 3 (2 OT): At Wrightsville, the two teams remained tied after two overtime periods and neither was able to find the back of the net for the game winner. Eagles goalie Nathaniel Hamme stopped a penalty kick in overtime to keep the game deadlocked. Dover's Kody Altland scored two second-half goals. For the Golden Knights, Grum Kebede scored one goal and added one assist, while Robert LeCates made nine stops in goal.
CENTRAL YORK 8, NEW OXFORD 1: Erik Rishel recorded the hat trick for Central York in the win, tallying three goals to keep the host Panthers atop the York-Adams Division I standings at 4-0. Teammate Jared Hileman had a pair of goals, while Kyle Smith, Anthony Trona and Joey Reitano (two assists) each had a score for Central. Brandon Mejia got New Oxford's lone score on an assist from Kevin Figueroa. Colonials' goalie Nicholas Lawrence made five stops while Panthers' keepers Chris Snowadsky and Stephen Goss each had a save.
-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.