Championship Saturday in the York-Adams League figured to have more than a little intrigue and drama.
It delivered a lot more than that.
The title games for field hockey at Susquehannock High School and for boys’ and girls’ soccer at Northeastern High School were all closely contested battles that went to down the very last seconds.
In the end, two of the games were decided by a single goal and one ended in a tie because Mother Nature didn't want to cooperate.
All three showdowns had a plenty of suspense that kept local fans on the edge of their seats throughout.
Here’s a breakdown of all three title contests.
Field Hockey — Bermudian Springs 3, Central York 2 (F-OT): This game offered something that many on hand had likely never seen before.
Unless you’re Central York coach Lori Livingston, that is.
After Panthers forward Katilyn Merritt scored her second goal of the game with just more than 14 minutes remaining in the second half, it definitely felt like the Division I champs were on their way to claiming the program’s first-ever Y-A title.
With two minutes remaining on the clock, it looked like pretty much a done deal.
The unbeaten Eagles (20-0-1) staged one of the more improbable comebacks ever by scoring a pair of goals in the final 90 seconds to force overtime.
Of course, no fairy-tale comeback story is really complete without a celebration. And the Division III champs got theirs five minutes into overtime when Skylar West got her stick on a shot from outside of the circle before it crossed the goal-line, giving the Eagles a thrilling 3-2 triumph.
After the championship medals were awarded and the teams were able to soak in what had transpired, Livingston was asked if she had ever seen anything like that before. Without skipping a beat, the CY coach gave an unexpected answer.
“Yeah,” she said. “I saw it happen to us maybe 10-15 years ago. We were playing Dallastown and we were up 2-0 and they scored two goals in the last five minutes and they won it in overtime.”
The good news for Livingston and her bunch is that Saturday’s setback won’t be the final contest of the season. The Panthers (15-6) claimed the No. 10 seed in the District 3 3-A bracket and will travel to take on No. 7 seeded Central Dauphin at Lower Dauphin High School Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
“We have to move on and get ready for Wednesday,” Livingston said. “And that’s going to be hard to do. I know that Central Dauphin is a really good team.”
Girls’ Soccer — Central York 1, Red Lion 0: If there was one thing to be taken away from this year’s Y-A girls' soccer playoffs, it's this: Make sure that Katelyn Mair is covered in the final 15 minutes of regulation.
For the second time in three days, Mair provided the difference-maker for the Division I runner-up. After breaking a scoreless tie with just more than five minutes left Thursday evening against rival Dallastown, "Big Game Mair" did it again in the final against Division I champion Red Lion, scoring the game-winner with 12:40 left on the clock.
While Thursday’s goal was a little fortunate, Saturday’s goal came on a set play off a throw in.
“Britlyn (Higgins) has an amazing throw-in, so we all try to get into the box,” Mair said. “And when the throw-in was coming, I saw that it was just going over the (Red Lion defender’s) head. So I knew that I could totally get to it and I just got a touch past the goalie.”
While the Lions made a strong run to tie the game in the final moments, the Panther defense held strong en route to a second shutout in a row.
“In the second half I just feel like our team just dominated,” Mair said. “We really kept the ball and worked together. And that goal wasn’t just me, it was our whole team.”
Mair’s tally helped her squad get a measure of revenge for the second game in a row. The Panthers (14-4-1) came up short in losses to the Lions (3-1) and the Wildcats (1-0) in their second go-around of the D-I regular season, so back-to-back 1-0 victories felt just as sweet as winning a third league title in a row.
“It’s such a great feeling to be able to win these,” Mair said. “And then to come in and be champions in the end together is great.”
Red Lion fell to 14-6.
Boys’ Soccer — West York 0, Susquehannock 0: It was only 10 days before Saturday’s title contest that the Warriors and Bulldogs had played to a 1-1 draw in their regular-season finale.
That result forced the two teams to settle for a tie for the Division II title with identical 10-1-1 division records.
Saturday’s showdown, however, was supposed to be the one that would settle the discussion about which team was superior.
Only Mother Nature intervened.
Playing in temperatures in the mid-to-high 50s through regulation, the two sides could not muster many prime scoring chances. The two defenses reigned supreme. But as the teams prepared to play the first 15-minute overtime, the weather conditions flipped on a dime. Rain fell as the temperatures dropped into the low 40s. Soon after, a blistering wind picked up and the rain quickly turned into a torrential downpour, sending the two teams inside their respective buses.
It was decided shortly afterward that, with the rain expected to continue on for at least another 30 minutes, the two sides would share the league title as co-champions.
So the contest that was going to decide it all, actually decided nothing.
"The game was a well-fought contest between two tough teams," West York head coach Ben Reiber said. "It was a shame we were not able to finish it. As coaches, we were concerned about how quickly the situation deteriorated. We were concerned about incurring injuries before going into districts ... we both have our first district game (Monday)."
The good news? If both teams win their opening-round District 3 3-A match-ups Monday, the two sides will again square off Thursday at Susquehannock High School in the district quarterfinals.
West York is now 15-3-2, while Susquehannock is 17-2-2.
Girls' Tennis — Dallastown fourth in district doubles: Dallastown's hopes of earning a PIAA Class 3-A girls' tennis doubles berth fell one win short over the weekend.
The unseeded team of Meghan Salaga and Morgan Kistler won a pair of matches in District 3 3-A action on Friday in straight sets to advance to Saturday's semifinals. The Dallastown team then lost to Maheim Township's top-seeded team before falling to the third-seeded team from Carlisle in the third-place match.
Only the top three teams in the District 3 3-A field advanced to the state playoffs.
No other Y-A team in either 3-A or 2-A advanced past the quarterfinals.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.