GLEN ROCK — They say that the third time's the charm, right?
For the West York Bulldogs, it sure was Thursday evening in the District 3 Class 3-A quarterfinals at Robert Lau Stadium on the campus of Susquehannock High School.
Playing York-Adams League Division II rival Susquehannock for the third time in the past two weeks — both of which ended in deadlocks, in the regular season finale as well as the league playoff title game — the battle had been dubbed the “Final Chapter."
The two sides played even through the first half, but it was the Bulldogs who got on the scoreboard when Aidan Clark found the net with 36 minutes left in the second half off a rebound attempt by teammate Justin Stough.
Clark’s goal turned out to be the only one of the night, as West York secured a 1-0 triumph.
“It was a good bookend,” said Bulldogs head coach Ben Reiber said after his team completed a 2-0-2 campaign in its four contests with the Warriors. “We put in the first one and we won the last one. That’s the way it should work.”
Clark’s goal was certainly the biggest one of the year for West York, which now moves on to the district semifinals Monday opposite two-time defending state champion Lower Dauphin (15-2-2), a 1-0 winner over Gettysburg in double-overtime on Thursday.
“We moved the ball up well,” Clark said. “We got a cross in, and Justin took a shot near the far post. It deflects off the goalie, and I’m there to just tap it in.”
West York's stout defense: While West York (17-3-2) prevailed, the hosts certainly had the better of the chances in the first half. West York goalie Connor Gerrick was forced to make an acrobatic save with about 18 minutes left before watching a rebound chip shot sail just over the crossbar.
Moments later off a corner attempt, the Bulldogs were saved when defender Colby Goodling was able to get his body on a shot by Susquehannock’s Greyson Murray that was destined for the net.
“Colby, they call him the X-factor,” Reiber said seconds before getting doused by a few of his players with the water cooler. ”And that’s the reason why.”
Susquehannock head coach Brett Maxwell could only wonder ‘what if?’ about what he agreed was probably the biggest play of the night by West York’s Goodling.
“I thought for sure that when Greyson struck the ball that it was going into the net,” Maxwell said. “And then all of a sudden we see the ball flying out.”
The Warriors came agonizingly close to scoring again near the 30-minute mark when a shot rolled just past the right post.
Bulldogs missing Altimore: Reiber and his club came into the contest with the mindset of attacking as much as they could. The 'Dogs certainly had more chances Thursday then they did last Saturday in the league final, in which the two sides settled for sharing the title due to a quick-moving storm after playing a scoreless regulation.
The Bulldogs, however, were not all smiles, as Jake Altimore was forced out of the contest with a concussion. Due to PIAA protocols, Altimore will have to sit idle for five days before he’s tested again to gauge his health. That rules him out of Monday’s semifinal, and it could keep him on the sidelines for the district final if the Bulldogs get there.
“That’s unfortunate,” Reiber said. “We really hope that he’ll be good to go, but it won’t be for the next game.”
Another quarterfinal loss: For a third-straight season, Susquehannock (17-3-2) saw its season conclude in the district quarterfinals.
“It’s disappointing,” Maxwell said. “We just can’t seem to get over this hump. We had some goals, namely to qualify for states, but I’m proud of the effort. We never gave up, even down to the last second.”
Maxwell gave credit to the Bulldogs, a team he led as its coach earlier this decade, for a well-earned victory.
“West York has had just a tremendous year,” he said. “Now we just said that we can’t get past the second-round, but this year we just couldn’t get past West York this year. So I have to give props to them.”
Lower Dauphin 1, Gettysburg 0, 2OT: The Warriors played an even match with Lower Dauphin for nearly 100 minutes, but the host Falcons came out on top in double overtime in the District 3 Class 3-A quarterfinal. Daniel Fombu scored the game-winning goal of an assist from Blake Cassel with 11:48 remaining in the second overtime. Lower Dauphin plays West York Monday at a site and time to be determined.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.