MANCHESTER — It appeared as if destiny was determined to take the third installment of the 2018 Central York-Dallastown girls’ soccer rivalry in overtime on Thursday evening at Northeastern High School.
Neither side was able to generate much offense through the first 74 minutes of play. Sure, there were some close calls, but many were wondering if Thursday’s semifinal in the York-Adams League Tournament was headed for OT, or even penalty kicks.
In soccer, however, it only takes one fortunate bounce to change things in a hurry.
For the Panthers, that fortuitous bounce came at the perfect time.
With just more than five minutes left in regulation, freshman Ava Myers corralled a clearing attempt before finding teammate Katelyn Mair. Mair was not in a prime scoring position, but that didn’t matter. The CY junior booted a spinning ball past Dallastown goalie Ashley Wakeling and into the net.
Mair’s tally stood up and the Panthers advanced to their third-straight Y-A League final with a satisfying 1-0 triumph over their Division I rivals.
Central moves on to Saturday’s final back at Northeastern against another divisional foe in Red Lion. The Division I champion Lions fought off a tough challenge from Division III champ and previously unbeaten Fairfield, 2-1, in overtime in the other semifinal.
“It was like really high,” Myers said of her game-winning assist. “I took it off my leg and then I thought that I had to keep my eyes up to look to see who was open.”
That open player was Mair. Myers said she saw Mair out of the corner of her eye. Mair took care of the rest, even if it was one of the most unconventional goals she'll ever score.
“I believe that I have a good forceful kick with my laces,” Mair said. “So I tried to kick it forcefully with my laces to cross it into the box. But it just bounced and went right into the goal.”
Mair’s kick hit the Dallastown side like a punch to the gut. As was the case in their previous two showdowns, the team that won scored only once.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less between Dallastown and Central,” Wildcats coach Scott Austin said. “It was tight the whole way through.”
The general sentiment was that Mair’s kick was a complete misdirection for everyone around her, especially Wakeling, who was anticipating a cross only to see the ball bounce the other way.
“I think that she was trying to cross it,” Austin said. “Now I could be wrong, but she hit it and it hit the back side of the netting and that’s 1-0 them.”
While both sides clearly were eager to gain the upper hand after splitting their regular-season showdowns, the real prize may come next Tuesday in the first round of the District 3 3-A playoffs. The Panthers appear to be locked in as the No. 6 seed and would host the No. 11 seeded Wildcats, if the power ratings hold up.
Red Lion 2, Fairfield 1 (OT): At Wrightsville, Gabby Young scored both Red Lion goals, including the game-winner with 10 minutes, 59 seconds left in the first OT. Milly Hinebaugh scored Fairfield's goal. Red Lion improved to 14-5, while Fairfield fell to 18-1.
Central York 2, Dallastown 0: At York Springs, the Panthers earned a berth in the York-Adams League championship game by blanking the Wildcats. Kaitlyn Merritt scored in the first half for Central, while Grace Harrold scored in the second half. Central will now take on Bermudian Springs for the title at 1 p.m. Saturday at Susquehannock. Central improved to 15-5. Dallastown fell to 13-7.
Bermudian Springs 2, Red Lion 0: At York Springs, the Eagles (19-0-1) advanced to the York-Adams title game with a semifinal triumph on their home field. The Eagles got goals from Hailey Lamo and Kaitlyn McCollum. Kayla Pyles assisted on both goals. Red Lion's season ends at 12-8.
Carlisle 3, Dallastown 2: At Hershey, the Wildcats' season came to an end with a loss in the District 3 Class 3-A third-place match. Sixth-seeded Dallastown finished 12-4. Top-seeded Carlisle improved to 17-1 and moves on to the PIAA state playoffs.
West York 3, South Western 0: At Manchester, the Bulldogs earned a spot in the York-Adams League title match. Jake Altimore, Alex McClellan and Aidan Clark scored for West York, while Altimore and Adam Hersey had assists. West York improved to 15-3-1, while South Western fell to 11-3-4. The Bulldogs will now face Susquehannock for the title at 7:30 p.m. Saturday back at Northeastern High School. West York and Susquehannock shared the Y-A Division II title during the regular season.
Susquehannock 1, Gettysburg 0: At Wrightsville, in the battle of the Warriors, the York County team came out on top behind a goal from Ben Wilson. Susquehannock is now 17-2-1, while Gettysburg dropped to 8-6-2.
Dover 5, New Oxford 1: At New Oxford, the Eagles rolled to the nonleague win, scoring three goals in the first half and two in the second half.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.