EMIGSVILLE — Tuesday night's York-Adams Division I showdown against Central York was a challenge that the Dallastown boys' soccer team was looking forward to, almost since the season began.
Winners of two straight league titles, Central has a bull's-eye firmly on its back.
For the better part of Tuesday night's contest, it appeared as if the Wildcats were primed to make a statement on the Panthers' home turf.
But a team with as much talent as Central is not put away with ease. After taking a 1-0 lead into the half on a goal by Kyle Schimmel, the Wildcats' defense couldn't contain a potent Central side forever.
Early in the second half, Igor Gomes tied the contest for the Panthers. Then, with time winding down, Nicholas Starr put the home team ahead for good with a header with just more than 10 minutes left.
So, while Dallastown coach Matt Zimmerman's team played "extremely well," the Wildcats had to go home on the south side of a 2-1 decision.
"They have talent all over the place," Zimmerman said. "And it's very hard to match up against them. Maybe we can match up with them on one or two (players) but they have so many dangerous weapons."
The Panthers came close to taking the lead down the stretch, including one ball that dinged off the left post. But moments later, the home team cashed in off a corner opportunity. Carter Luckenbaugh made a quick pass to Pierce Miller, who fed it back to Luckenbaugh, who lofted a pass inside the box. Starr was able to get open and find the ball before ripping a quick header past Dallastown goalie A.J. Lentz.
"I actually didn't even see it go in," Starr said. "Someone's arm was in my face, but when (I realized it went in) I went crazy."
Starr can thank Gomes for giving him a chance to win it. Everyone in the league knows about Gomes, who can dazzle teammates, fans and coaches alike with his skill. He demonstrated that early in the second half by blistering a laser from inside the box to even the score at 1-1.
Gomes struck so suddenly that Zimmerman admitted he missed the game-tying tally.
"I was trying to figure out what (adjustments) to do after halftime," he said.
The goal by Gomes invigorated a home side that was a bit frustrated by Dallastown's defensive posture. Central, which held an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks, possessed the ball for a majority of the time but was unable to penetrate into good scoring areas until Gomes broke through.
"They sat in and let us keep possession," Central coach Frank Lenno said. "And we did. We did a great job of keeping possession. As the game wore on, you can only defend for so long until you start getting stretched. And we had our out wide players get way wide trying to stretch out their four backs. Then the seams in there started opening up a bit."
Schimmel's goal late in the first half seemed like it may hold up. With the Panthers' defense caught near midfield, a through-ball was laced ahead of Schimmel, who avoided an offside call. Central goalie Trevor Holderegger raced out to try to beat Schimmel to the ball, but the Dallastown forward chipped a shot over his head and inside the right post.
"I have no clue (if he was offside)," Lenno said. "But it was a good finish."
While the home team celebrated an important victory that improved its record to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in divisional play, the visitors didn't exactly leave with their heads hanging.
"We gave it a shot," said Zimmerman, whose team dropped to 5-3-1 overall and 3-2 in Division I. "We came in with a game plan. In the first half it worked, but it didn't end up well enough for us in the end there."
OTHER BOYS' SOCCER
Red Lion 3, South Western 1: At Red Lion, Ian Patmore and Collin Conrad posted a goal and an assist each in the Lions' victory. Kade Adomanis had Red Lion's other goal. Casey Slater scored an unassisted goal for South Western.
Susquehannock 3, Dover 0: At Glen Rock, Luke Thomas and Kaleb Lippy each registered two-point games in helping the Warriors to the win. Thomas scored a pair of goals, while Lippy recorded a goal and an assist. Aaron Bilbie recorded five saves in goal to earn the shutout.
New Oxford 4, Northeastern 1: At New Oxford, the Colonials scored four times in the second half to erase a 1-0 deficit and knock off the Bobcats. Luis Partida scored twice for New Oxford, while Peter Foerster added a third and an own goal completed all the scoring for the Colonials. Brandon Arentz scored the only goal for Northeastern, giving his team a 1-0 halftime lead.
West York 2, Kennard-Dale 1: At West York, Kenton Meckley and Nick Renda scored to erase an early 1-0 K-D lead. Jacob May and Josh May had West York assists. Michael Ambrose scored for the Rams. Darian McCauley made five saves for West York. Jonathan Osborne had nine saves for K-D.
Fairfield 5, York Catholic 4: At Fairfield, the home team won a high-scoring affair. No other details were reported.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.