MANCHESTER -- In sports, there are few things more important than confidence.
If you have it, you expect to win. If you don't, you hope to win.
The Dallastown field hockey team expects to win.
Despite being mired in a scoreless tie at intermission in Thursday's York-Adams League Tournament championship game against Red Lion, the Wildcats showed their confidence when they told Coach Jeri Myers to relax.
"They said 'don't worry, Coach, we're not going to overtime, we're not going to strokes, we're winning it outright,'" Myers said.
Last year's championship win vs. Red Lion was decided by strokes. That would not be the case this season.
The Wildcats stayed true to their word. They dominated their rivals over the final 30 minutes. After two goals were waved off, including one that Myers contested should have been a good goal, the Wildcats continued their assault until Rachel Anstine scored on a nifty tally with 21 minutes, 55 seconds left in the contest.
They didn't stop there. Ashley Chioda added an insurance marker with 8:25 left. That was plenty for a Dallastown side that cruised to a 2-0 triumph at Northeastern High School.
The victory, the third over the Lions already this season, marked the second year in a row that the Wildcats (19-1) have won the York-Adams title. Red Lion (15-3) won the first two championships, which began back in 2010.
Myers enjoyed her team's confidence, especially the fact that she wasn't the one having to mention it.
"They were the ones saying it," Myers said with a smile. "The other night I asked if we should practice 7-on-7 and they said, 'nope, we got it covered Coach.'"
The Wildcats survived a slow start. The Lions possessed the ball for a majority of the game's first 15 minutes. The Division I runners-up, though, were only able to get one shot on goal during that stretch, which was saved by Dallastown goalie Niki Bream.
That shot on goal proved to be the only one the Lions would register. The Division I champs would own the second half.
Anstine answered her team's call to action when she knocked a shot through her legs that skipped past Red Lion goalie Jessica Everett. Anstine, who had her back to the goal during the shot, has proven to be a big asset for Myers in front of the net this year.
"I don't really think too much when I'm there," Anstine said of her goal, which was assisted by Molly Childress and Taylor Kline. "That's kind of my spot. Coach puts me on pads and I just turned around and put it straight through my legs."
While Anstine and company were relieved to get the first tally, they grew hungrier for more.
"We want two goals to get ahead," Anstine said. "But having one just feels so good."
Getting a two-goal lead is something that Myers calls "closing the coffin" and Chioda did just that with under 10 minutes remaining.
Myers, however, was disappointed with a ruling earlier in the second half when a goal was waved off for being a dangerous play.
"I asked the official and she said that there was people involved, but I said 'no one was marked,'" Myers said. "And she went, 'oh, my bad.' So it was a goal. It was a goal. When there is nobody but them defending, the onus is on them. They can't create the danger. But luckily we scored two so it didn't matter."
Myers hailed her entire team for its victory.
"It was a total team effort," she said. "It really was. When you don't know who to mark on our team and everybody steps up, that's what makes a Dallastown team. They're all willing to be the next hero."
Red Lion coach Carol Gillmen thought her team played well in the first half, but that the Wildcats took the Lions out of their game over the final 30 minutes.
"I thought in the first half it was very even play," she said. "In the second half, when we had some opportunities we weren't getting the shot off. Dallastown really steps up to the ball very well and I think that was the big difference maker."
Heading to districts: The two rivals, who have seen each other at least three times over the past few years, would only get another showdown in the finals or the consolation semifinals of the upcoming District 3-AAA playoffs.
The Wildcats enter the bracket as the No. 4 seed and will play Tuesday at 6 p.m. at York Suburban against the winner of the Ephrata-Governor Mifflin preliminary-round game.
Red Lion earned the No. 6 seed and will battle No. 11 Manheim Central at 4 p.m. Tuesday, also at Suburban.
While the district playoffs haven't been kind to the Wildcats over the past few years, including several first-round exits, Myers is hoping this year's club will break through and advance to the PIAA Tournament.
"We've been talking all season long about how we're going to states," she said. "I've been trying to brainwash them, so we'll see what happens. On any given night the ball can go in and bounce the wrong way."
-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.