Sweet redemption: Dallastown avenges loss vs. Gettysburg, advances to York-Adams field hockey title match
There probably aren't many coaches in high school athletics who are comfortable with allowing their players to make important decisions.
Dallastown field hockey coach Jeri Myers, however, is one of the few.
So when a penalty occurred late in Wednesday evening's York-Adams League Tournament semifinal vs. Division II champion Gettysburg, Myers was all aboard when her players suggested they send out senior Maggie Noll to take the penalty shot.
With the outcome weighing heavily on Noll, the Wildcat senior didn't want to give away any of her intentions. Glancing repeatedly at the right post before the whistle blew, Noll blasted a rocket just inside the left part of the cage to put her team ahead 1-0 with just 2 minutes and 5 seconds left in regulation.
That tally set off a celebration on the field between Noll and her teammates. After briefly halting while the final minutes wound down, the celebration fired back up after the final horn sounded at the conclusion of Dallastown's 1-0 triumph at York Suburban High School.
The Division I champions will have a chance earn their third league title over the past four years when they face Division III champion Bermudian Springs at 7 p.m. Thursday at Northeastern High School. Bermudian Springs earned its ticket to the title contest by earning a 2-1 overtime victory over Division I runner-up New Oxford.
"That was probably the best moment of my life," Noll said. "It felt very good."
Redemption: As satisfying as it was to score a goal in a playoff contest, it was exponentially more gratifying to do it against a Gettysburg side that upset the Wildcats in last year's semifinals. The Warriors took charge early in that game and rode that momentum to a 3-0 shutout a season ago.
Getting a measure of revenge was definitely on Noll's mind after seeing her school's two-year reign atop the league ended by a Warrior side in its inaugural season in the York-Adams League.
"We were coming back for redemption," Noll said. "We definitely played our hearts out. Every single person on the field played their hearts out."
Noll's goal capped off a dominating, yet frustrating barrage of opportunities for the Wildcats. Dallastown earned 13 penalty corners and put three shots on goal while they tilted the field in their favor after the first 15 minutes of play.
There were a number of touches that sailed wide of the cage and the other two that didn't were kicked away by Gettysburg goalie Judy Neemeyer.
Penalty shot: With all of the chances seemingly in their favor, for the scoreboard to still show 0-0 could have been deflating. But after a Warrior player was caught shoving a Dallastown player inside the arc, the referee awarded the Wildcats a golden opportunity to break the scoreless deadlock with just more than two minutes remaining.
That set the stage for Noll, who Myers said was one of the best (if not the best) shooters on penalty shots during practices.
"We do them at every practice," Noll said. "I just tried to think about me against our goalie, Sydney (Terroso). I just had to pretend it was her in there and I just took the shot lower far left."
Before she did, however, she admitted playing a bit of a mind game with Neemeyer.
"Actually when I was getting ready I always stare at the right side," Noll said. "Because if the goalie is looking at me, she's looking at where I'm looking. So I stare at the right side every time and I just went for it."
Bigger goal ahead: While defeating Gettysburg was one of the team's top goals, the bigger goal lies ahead Thursday.
"We're not going to take anyone for granted," Noll said. "I know after fighting it out to win today's game we're not going to let down tomorrow. As a team we've come this far so we're not going to give up now."
Dallastown improved to 17-2-0 with the win, while Gettysburg (18-1-0) suffered its first loss.
Bermudian, meanwhile, enters the title match at 17-2-0, while New Oxford dropped to 13-4-1.
Dallastown beat Bermudian earlier this season, 2-1.
In Wednesday's other semifinal, New Oxford's Kaelyn Long opened the scoring with 27 minutes left in the game. Bermudian's Mackenzie Farley evened the score six minutes later to send the game into overtime. Bermudian then won the game with 12 minutes left in OT on a goal by Nicki Wolf.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.