Susquehannock's Camryn Burk cut West York's two-goal lead in half with just 1 minute, 32 seconds left in the match.
A minute later, Warriors' sophomore standout Alesha Herman stormed down the left side of the grass field, alone on a breakaway after splitting a pair of defenders. Roughly 15 yards out from the goal, all that stood between Herman and a potential game-tying score was West York freshman goalie Chloe Smith.
What seemed like a sure York-Adams Division II victory for West York just two minutes before now hung in the balance.
"She (Herman) looked like a mad bull coming at me," Smith said. "So I'm like 'what do I do?' My worst area that I always get scored on is right between my legs. So I said 'if I keep my legs together I'll be fine.' I saw the ball went through (defender) Tessa (Miller). And I was like 'oh, my gosh, she's coming at me. This game is gonna be tied.' I was just like 'OK, I'm going to just charge her.' So I just ran at her and I guess it worked."
With the sun glaring in her eyes, Smith charged at Herman in an attempt to kick the ball away. The players instead smashed into each other, with Smith winding up on her back. But Smith's quick-thinking move worked. The ball caught a piece of her right foot during the collision and deflected away from the net. The host Bulldogs held on in the final 30 seconds, coming away with a pivotal 2-1 victory.
Avenging a 2-0 loss at Susquehannock earlier this season, the win moves West York ( 8-4 overall) into a tie with Susquehannock (9-3-1) in the loss column atop Division II. Both teams have one division loss. The teams have traded division titles the last two seasons. The Bulldogs won it last year and are now attempting to win back-to-back titles for the first time since the 2008-09 seasons. They're doing so under first-year coach Amanda Steigleman, a 1998 Mechanicsburg High School graduate who played four years at NCAA Division III Albright College. She is in her third year working in West York's administration office.
"We've come a long way," Steigleman said. "This is a group of girls that did not have a coach when the season started. They didn't even know if they were gonna have a season. So just the fact that they're coming in, new coach, I don't know them, they don't know me. Our first two scrimmages of the year were horrible. So to have come this far ... they're playing like a well-oiled machine."
An crucial part of the team's success thus far is Smith, who began playing field hockey just two years ago. The game-saving stop Monday afternoon was her third save of the contest.
"I remember we were just doing stick skills (in preseason practice) and she (Smith) was holding her own with the best of them. And I'm like 'wow, look at that freshman.' And then I learn 'that's the goalie, coach.' She's just been consistent all season," Steigleman said.
Scoreless at intermission, West York scored 2 minutes, 13 seconds into the second half on a goal by Megan Chubb off an assist from Ally Williams. Madison Wampler put the Bulldogs up by two scores with 19:45 to play. Both teams put four shots on goal. Warriors' goalie Ashton Alban had two saves.
OTHER FIELD HOCKEY
NORTHEASTERN 2, SOUTH WESTERN 1: The host Bobcats led 1-0 at intermission on a goal by Katie Leary with 6:53 left in the first half. South Western's Ally Miller tied it at 1-1 with 14:50 remaining. Carly Brenner scored the game-winner with 6:12 left. Northeastern goalie Erin Hollerbush made seven saves, while South Western keeper Hannah Glover had six stops. The Bobcats improved to 6-4 in York-Adams Division I competition. It marks the most league wins for Northeastern since 2002.
DALLASTOWN 7, SPRING GROVE 0: At Dallastown, Bryna Cook led the Wildcats to the York-Adams Division I victory by scoring three goals. Rachael Anstine had two goals and one assist for the winners, while Molly Childress had four assists. Ashley Chioda had one goal and one assist and Sawyer Eckenrode scored one goal. The Wildcats held the Rockets to zero shots on goal. Dallastown improved to 10-0-0 in the division.
CENTRAL YORK 1, NEW OXFORD 0: At New Oxford, Sommer Danfelt found the back of the net with 10:59 remaining in the second half to give the Panthers all the offense they would need to capture the York-Adams Division I victory. The Panthers' defense held the Colonials to one shot on goal. Central won the JV match, 2-0.
RED LION 2, DOVER 1: At Dover, the Lions received one goal each from Ali Posey and Morgan Kuehne to secure the York-Adams Division I victory. Hannah Taylor scored the lone goal for the Eagles. Red Lion improved to 9-2-0 in the division.
BERMUDIAN SPRINGS 8, HANOVER 0: At York Springs, McKenzie Farley led the Eagles to the York-Adams Division III victory by scoring three goals and adding one assist. Bermudian improved to 8-0-0 in the division.
FAIRFIELD 2, LITTLES TOWN 1: At Fairfield, Madison Macharsky led the Green Knights to the York-Adams Division III victory by scoring one goal and adding one assist.
BIGLERVILLE 2, DELONE CATHOLIC 1: At McSherrystown, Rachel Asper found the back of the net with 4:15 remaining in the second half to clinch the York-Adams Division III victory for the Canners.
-- Reach John Walk at email@example.com.