MANCHESTER -- Above all else, the Central York boys' soccer team has been chasing one goal this year -- a berth into the PIAA Class AAA state playoffs.
With a chance to achieve that dream Tuesday night in a District 3-AAA semifinal against No. 3 seed Conestoga Valley, the York-Adams League Tournament champions put everything they had into making that happen.
After tying the game early in the second half on a goal by senior Royce Clemens, the Panthers appeared to have things going their way.
Then suddenly, it all came to a crashing halt.
Nathan Delgado's shot barely broke the plane of the goal line before Central goalie Chris Snowadsky could record a punch save. That tally with 21:43 remaining in the contest temporarily dashed the Panthers' dreams after the Buckskins earned a 2-1 victory at Northeastern High School.
Conestoga Valley (19-2-2) will face No. 1 seed Cumberland Valley (19-1-1), a 1-0 double-overtime winner over Wilson in the other semifinal, for the district title at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.
The Panthers (21-3), who saw their 12-game winning streak snapped, will have to defeat No. 5 seed Wilson (15-4-4) at 5 p.m. Saturday at Northeastern to earn District 3's third-and-final entry into the PIAA Class AAA state playoffs.
"They're a good team," Clemens said of the Buckskins. "But I didn't doubt our effort one bit. We played a great game. It's better that we see a team like them now so we can be prepared for what's to come."
The contest had everything a fan could want. The play was quick and there were a number of close calls and saves by both goalies.
"I equate the level of this game much to like the level I used to play at in college," Conestoga Valley coach Dave Hartlaub said. "Back then it was just back-and-forth, strong athletes and real close duals and it was a true war out there. I'm just very proud that my boys were able to go out there and get the close ones that counted."
The Buckskins were able to break on the board late in the first half after Snowadsky punched away a scoring chance. On the ensuing corner kick, however, CV was able to corral a loose ball in the box and Andrew Moore scored off an assist by Adam Eidemiller.
That lead was snapped by Clemens early in the second half when he raced for a loose ball. Clemens was able to get there before CV goalie Zack Rider and he knocked it into the cage to even the score at 1-1 with 32:07 left.
That set the stage for Delgado, who came into the game with an incredible 27 goals on the season. The Messiah-bound senior was able to get enough on a header that Snowadsky couldn't punch it away in time for the game-winner.
"(Snowadsky) made a nice initial save on it, but I think there was too much pace on it," Hartlaub said. "It took it into the goal. It seemed pretty clear-cut to me. I know (Central York coach Frank Lenno) got a yellow shortly after that, so I'm assuming he's not very happy with the call."
Lenno did not dispute the call after the game.
"I don't know what happened," he said. "It was a cross and ... I don't know what happened. I couldn't see anything."
Now the Panthers, who would have secured a state berth with a victory over CV, will need to defeat Wilson if they want to extend their season.
"Saturday, if we keep our effort the same but keep the ball on the ground a little bit more, I think we'll be fine," Clemens said.
Lenno sounded a similar tone.
"We don't have to do anything different," he said. "We're a pretty good team and I think (Conestoga Valley) understands that we were pretty dangerous today. I'm proud of my guys. They battled."
Central held edges in both shots on goal (10-7) and corners (6-5). Snowadsky finished with five saves, while Rider tallied nine.
OTHER BOYS' SOCCER
BIGLERVILLE 2, GREENWOOD 0: At New Kingstown, Biglerville earned a little revenge against Greenwood.
The Wildcats beat the Canners in last year's district title match. This season, No. 1 seed Biglerville got some payback with a District 3-A semifinal victory over No. 4 seed Greenwood.
Mario Ortega and Jose Cernas scored goals for the Canners (17-4-0), while Armando Rojo and Stevie Daron had assists.
Gerry Lua made eight saves in goal to get the win.
Biglerville needed just three shots to get its two goals. Greenwood (13-4-2) outshot Biglerville, 8-3, but the Canners had a 13-5 edge in corners.
The Canners will return to the district title match for the fourth time in six years. They will be chasing their second district crown. They won the title in 2009, and finished second in 2008 and 2012.
In the championship match, Biglerville will face No. 2 seed Lancaster Country Day (15-2-3) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium. LCD earned a 1-0 win against No. 6 seed Trinity (11-8-1) in the other District 3-A semifinal.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.