The shots kept coming.

And 6-foot, 2-inch West York goalie Darian McCauley had an answer for each one.

Twice he stopped lasers off the right foot of Central York junior forward Calvin Luckenbaugh.

Twice more he stopped point-blank headers in front of the net off the cranium of Panthers' sophomore Jared Wagner.

For the first 69 minutes, 19 seconds of action in a District 3-AAA playoff game on a chilly Tuesday night under the lights at Central, McCauley was unbreakable.

Of the 12 saves he made, the most impressive came when Central star Erik Rishel nearly broke the scoreless tie with 22:43 remaining in regulation. About 15 yards out from the net, Rishel booted a shot that hovered just inches off the ground as it glided toward the left side of the goal. Diving to his right, McCauley slammed his body to the ground, stretched out his arms and trapped the ball to the ground by his fingertips.

Central coach Frank Lenno said it was the best performance he's seen by a goalkeeper all season.

Finally, on their 11th shot of the game, the Panthers found the back of the net with 18:41 to play when Central sophomore forward Michael Tolley dribbled to the right baseline and sent a rocket of a pass to senior teammate Royce Clemens for the score.

"I didn't see Royce. I just knew they had numbers," McCauley said. "The ball got played in and I lost sight of the ball. He (Clemens) hit it and at the last second I couldn't get to it. It just went to the back of the net."

McCauley made a pair of saves from that point, but West York's offensive struggles continued, and the No. 2 seed Panthers held on for the 1-0 win over the No. 15 Bulldogs to advance to the district quarterfinals.


Advertisement

"It's a good win in districts," Clemens said. "I think we have a lot of potential to go deep in districts. I don't think we played as well as we could have, but I think we got the job done."

Less than a week after beating West York, 4-1, in the York-Adams League Tournament title game, Central (20-2) again controlled possession throughout night, outshooting the Bulldogs, 13-2. The Panthers had the same margin in corners. West York's only two shots on goal came around the 12:30 mark of the second half on a direct kick from sophomore Andres Cruz that Central senior keeper Chris Snowadsky knocked down. An ensuing scrum in front of the net led to another shot, which Snowadsky scooped up.

The Bulldogs' season comes to an end at 14-5-2 after having won the league's Division II title, finishing as the runner-up in the league tournament title game last Thursday and beating No. 18 Northern York last Saturday in a district preliminary game.

"We came in (to the season) and people didn't even have us finishing top five in the county," McCauley said. "And here we are getting second in counties and making it this far into the season, it's just unbelievable."

Next round: With its highest district seeding in program history, Central will next face No. 7 Exeter Township (14-6) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium. Exeter defeated No. 10 Lower Dauphin (14-5) on Tuesday night on penalty kicks, 5-4, after a scoreless regulation and two scoreless overtimes.

Another Central win would put the Panthers into the district semifinals for the first time in program history.

OTHER BOYS' SOCCER

CUMBERLAND VALLEY 5, SOUTH WESTERN 1: At Cumberland Valley, the 17th-seeded Mustangs couldn't hang with the No. 1 seed in a Class AAA first-round match. Zach Wells scored for the Mustangs off an assist from Andrew Slater. Adam Alton had six saves in goal in a losing cause. South Western's season ends at 12-7-1. The Eagles improved to 17-1-1.

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.