HERSHEY -- Dallastown's tennis players are hoping their goal to compete in the state team tournament was only delayed on Tuesday.
The Wildcats lost, 4-0, to Lancaster-Lebanon League champion Manheim Township in a District 3-AAA semifinal at Hershey Racquet Club.
Dallastown, which could have clinched a berth in states with a victory, will have one more chance to advance to the PIAA event.
The Wildcats will take on Hershey at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, also at Hershey Racquet Club, in the third-place match.
The winning team will move on to states, while the losing team will see its team season come to an end.
"We have a great senior group, and we love the leadership they provide," Dallastown head coach Mark Koons said following Tuesday's match. "We would like to keep the season going for them."
Koons thinks that the match against Hershey will be extremely close.
"I'm expecting five really good matches," he said. "I know they lost 3-0 (to Hempfield), but Hempfield's one and two players are very good. The other three matches (No. 3 singles and No. 1 and No. 2 doubles) were really good matches."
Dallastown had some excellent shot-making against Manheim Township, but the Blue Streaks refused to let the Wildcats derail their drive to the title match.
John Schmitt, the Wildcats' No. 1 player, led, 5-4, in the first set, but Manheim Township's Bobby Belser rallied to win, 7-5, 6-2.
Dallastown's Kyle Salaga came back from a 5-2 deficit to tie the second set of his match with Griffin Clark at 5-5. Clark, though, ended up winning, 6-1, 7-5.
The Wildcats' Payce Berridge won the first set at No. 3 singles, 6-4. The Blue Streaks' Ben Wirth answered with a 6-1 decision in the second set and was leading 1-0 in the third set when he and Berridge were called off the court because Manheim Township had earned the deciding third point in the 3-2 format (three singles and two doubles).
The Blue Streaks swept the doubles with Dan Ansel and John Kitsock prevailing 6-3, 6-1 at No. 1, and Ben Weiner and Tyler Lewin coming out on top in a hard-fought match at No. 2 doubles, 6-4, 6-4.
"That's the best I've seen our No. 2 doubles team (Nick Barley and Nick Jones) play all season," Koons said. "John (Schmitt) had to force the action at No. 1 singles to try and win the points. Manheim Township's No. 2 player is the best No. 2 player in the district, and Kyle (Salaga) fought hard in that match, and at No. 3, you had two of the best No. 3 players in the district."
The loss was just Dallastown's second of the season. The Wildcats will take a 14-2 mark into Wednesday's match.
"I'm certainly not disappointed with the way we competed today," Koons said. "We just faced a team that was a little better. If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that we would be in a position to win a berth in states, I would have been surprised."
Three of the five Wildcats who competed in the 2012 York-Adams Singles Tournament graduated.
-- Reach Dick VanOlinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.