MANCHESTER — The good news for the Susquehannock boys' soccer players is that they're inching closer to York-Adams Division II rival Gettysburg every time they play.
The bad news is that they are more than just a couple inches away from beating the York-Adams champions.
That was proven for a third time this season when the two programs met up in the District 3-AA semifinals at Northeastern High School. While the play wasn't as heavily titled in Gettysburg's favor as it was in their previous two battles, the Adams County power was able to cash in on nearly every legitimate scoring chance they received.
Matt Yingling opened the scoring around 15 minutes into the contest on a well-placed shot. After his brother, Adam, doubled the advantage with a penalty kick goal early in the second half, the speedy junior striker sealed the victory with his 24th goal of the season, a feed that came from his brother with just more than 14 minutes remaining.
The resulting 3-0 triumph sends unbeaten and No. 1 seed Gettysburg (22-0) into the District 3-AA final opposite No. 3 seed Lancaster Mennonite (18-3-1), which downed No. 2 seed Fleetwood (19-2) in a 0-0 contest that was decided by penalty kicks, 4-2. That contest will take place at Hersheypark Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
No. 4 seed Susquehannock (14-7) will square off against Fleetwood in a consolation contest Saturday at a time and location yet to be determined. The winner of the third-place battle will earn a berth into next week's PIAA state playoffs.
While the York County Warriors played their best game against the Adams County Warriors, there is still a bit of separation between the two sides.
"We had much more of the play in the first 60 minutes of this game than we did in the first two games combined," Susquehannock coach Brett Maxwell said. "We're getting better and we're getting closer. If we keep moving forward and can pull something out and find a way to get to states, we'll see what happens."
Gettysburg finished with just four shots on goal while holding Maxwell's club to just a single shot. But Susquehannock was able to generate three corner chances, or one more than Gettysburg.
All of the silver linings aside, however, Maxwell knows that his team wasn't beaten by an ordinary squad. There are many whispers that Gettysburg could win the state title in any bracket (AAA, AA or A). They are just that good.
"I think they are the front runners to win the state tournament," Maxwell said.
With such high praises being heaped upon the club before even playing for a District 3 title, one would think the York-Adams champs might find it easy to get ahead of themselves.
Not so, according to Matt Yingling.
"We definitely have a goal to get to the state finals," he said. "But we remind everyone on the team that we have to take it one game at a time. And we can't get over-confident because that would lead to a mistake, and just one is all it takes."
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.