DALLASTOWN — Red Lion boys’ soccer coach Mike Watt is no stranger to the soccer pitch.
He enjoyed years of playing the game competitively, before moving on to coaching at various levels.
Despite those years of experience, however, Watt has never found himself in the predicament that he and his club faced entering this week.
With four — yes, four — starters out because of various injuries, the RL coach has been forced to make some significant changes.
While Watt expects two of the four to return to the field in the near future, that was little consolation heading into Thursday afternoon’s rivalry game with backyard neighbor Dallastown.
Despite those dire circumstances, the Lions and their coach did their best against an unbeaten Wildcat side. Playing a more defensive, counter-attacking scheme, the Red Lion boys came as close as anyone has to upsetting the York-Adams League Division I leaders, dropping a 1-0 decision.
A team as good as Dallastown, which entered the day at No. 2 in the District 3 Class 4-A power ratings, could only be fended off for so long. A defensive breakdown on a corner opportunity by the Lions gave Dallastown sophomore Zander Leik a chance to get his head on the ball for what would become the game-winning tally.
Dallastown improved to 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the division, while the Lions fell to 3-3-1 overall and 2-3-1 in the division.
“I know that they have a lot of good players,” Watt said of the Wildcats. “I’ve coached a couple of them with PA Classics and I knew they were going to probably give us a lot of problems.”
Defensive miscue: The Lions, however, fought hard to limit Dallastown’s chances throughout. In fact, the Wildcats were only able to get on the board because of what Watt deemed a defensive miscue on his side.
“We made a mistake in the back and got picked off and they earned a corner from it,” Watt said. “And then we didn’t mark very well and they got a header that we probably should have dealt with a lot better than we did. So that was disappointing.”
To fall to a talented Dallastown squad by just one goal is nothing that Watt is particularly upset about, considering the injury situation that he's facing. Watt lost his starting right-back, Hunter Throne, last Friday when Throne broke his collarbone while making a tackle on a kickoff during the Red Lion-Central York game. Throne is a kicker for the football team.
The Lions were also without their center-back, Brandon Weinstein, as well as two others with leg injuries, which forced Watt to move his more experienced middies back defensively.
“We’re doing the best that we can with four starters out,” he said. “And I’ve never, thankfully, ever had to deal with anything like that. But Hunter and Brandon are two seniors and they’re our leaders out on the field, so it is a big loss.”
Facing long odds, Watt was certainly pleased to see his side pull things together on the fly. While not a real victory in terms of its record, for Watt, the score was certainly an emotional boost for the Lions.
“We took a more defensive approach to try to absorb pressure,” Watt said. “We knew that there was a good chance that if we went with any type of all-out attack that we would probably get picked off because we have some guys playing as defenders on defense that have never played there before. So, yes, this feels like a moral victory because we kept it to one and really didn’t give up all that many chances.”
The Wildcats, coming off a big 1-0 triumph over Central York Tuesday, registered 12 shots while earning seven corners in the victory, while the Lions managed five shots to go with six corner opportunities.
Note: Dallastown head coach Andrew Foust was asked to be interviewed for this story, but the first-year coach declined the opportunity for both himself and his players.
OTHER BOYS' SOCCER
Susquehannock 3, West York 1: At Glen Rock, the Warriors got a pair of goals from Greyson Murray to earn the win. Nolan Holloway scored Susquehannock's other goal. Fallou Cisse and Mason Kaifer had Warrior assists. Jason Bruder scored for West York. Ethan Smyser made 10 saves for West York. Nick Koval had six saves for Susquehannock, which improved to 9-0-1 overall and 5-0 in York-Adams Division II.
South Western 3, Northeastern 1: Joshua Clapper scored two goals to lead South Western. Connor Baldiwin had South Western's other goal. Caleb Snyder scored for Northeastern, off an assist from Brian Warrender.
Hershey 2, Central York 0: At Central, in a meeting of two of the better teams in District 3, the Panthers came up a loser, allowing two second-half goals after a scoreless first half. Hershey improved to 6-1-2. Central fell to 5-3-1.
York Catholic 1, Hanover 0: At Hanover, the Irish won on a second-half, unassisted goal from Ben Bullen. The Irish improved to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in York-Adams Division III.
Kennard-Dale 1, Eastern York 0: At Fawn Grove, Hailey Clayton found the back of the net at the 10:45 mark of the first half to give the Rams an early lead. That ended up being the lone goal of the match. Teammate Abigail Wiland made 15 stops in goal to record the shutout. For the Golden Knights, Savannah Yingst made nine saves.
Northeastern 4, South Western 1: At South Western, Megan Elzinga led the Bobcats to the road victory by netting all four goals, including three in the second half. Also for the Bobcats, Katie Snelbaker, Camryn Kurilla and Rachel Kelly each added one assist. The Bobcats' defense held the Mustangs to three shots on goal.
Red Lion 1, Dallastown 0 (2-OT): At Red Lion, the Lions outlasted their rivals in a York-Adams Division I contest. Red Lion improved to 6-2 overall and 5-1 in D-I. Dallastown fell to 6-3 and 3-3.
Bacha shoots 64, Central York clinches D-I: Carson Bacha fired a 7-under-par 64 on Thursday to help Central York clinch the York-Adams Division I golf title.
The Panthers won the regular-season-ending event at HCC with a 297 total. Dallastown was second at (320), followed by Northeastern (341), Spring Grove (359), South Western (362), New Oxford (367) and Red Lion (382).
Central finished with a 39-3 mark for the season, while second-place Dallastown finished at 37-5. Central has won six straight D-I titles.
Central's Alex Gekas was second individually on Thursday with a 73, followed by Central's June Lee at 76, Dallastown's Owen Brown at 77 and Spring Grove's Karl Frisk at 79.
Kennard-Dale takes Division II title: Kennard-Dale claimed the York-Adams Division II golf title on Thursday.
The Rams finished third as a team in the regular-season-ending tournament at Honey Run to finish with a 37-5 record. Susquehannock took first at Honey Run to finish at 35-7.
The Warriors had a 334 total at Honey Run, followed by Dover (348), K-D (353), West York (370), York Suburban (374), Eastern York (406) and Gettysburg (415).
Susquehannock's Andrew Roberts was the individual medalist at 2-over-par 74, followed by Dover's Trevor Snyder (76), K-D's Nick Fowler (81), Dover's Aaron Eckert (83) and K-D's Alexandra Smith (83).
Central York 3, Red Lion 2: At Red Lion, the Panthers clinched at least a tie for the York-Adams Division I title with the win. Central improved to 9-1 overall and 8-0 in D-I. The Panthers can clinch the outright crown with a win on Wednesday vs. York Suburban. Central had not won a division girls' tennis title since 2009.
Hanover 4, Spring Grove 1: At Hanover, the Hawkettes received straight-set singles victories from Michelle McDaniel and Alyssa Johnson. In doubles, Mia Alverez and Kat Yost won the No. 1 match, while Ariella Stansbury and Abbi Martin won the No. 2 match. For the Rockets, Sara Diehl won the No. 1 singles match in three sets.
York Suburban 3, Susquehannock 2: At Glen Rock, the Trojans received straight-set singles victories from Alex Clancy and Abby Miller. Suburban's Alivia Halza and Sophie Gilbert captured the No. 1 doubles match. For the Warriors, Ali Zapach won a singles match in straight sets, while Julia Thomas and Livia Haines won a doubles match.
York Country Day 4, Bermudian Springs 1: At Penn State York, the Greyhounds received straight-set singles victories from Kaylee Mustard, Olivia Sharp and Lea Gilio. In doubles, Lauren Klinedinst and Maggie Blassetti combined to win the No. 1 doubles match.
Gettysburg 5, Dover 0: At Dover, the Warriors received straight-set singles victories from Kim Heinzelman, Grace Neller and Sophie Cann to capture the road victory.
West York 8, Delone Catholic 0: At McSherrystown, Carly Gross and Madeline Myers led the Bulldogs to the road victory by each scoring three goals. Erin Marshall and Morgan Myers each scored one goal, while Carli Curreri and Hannah Harlacher each picked up one assist. The Bulldogs' defense held the Squirettes to zero shots on goal for the game.
York Catholic 3, York Tech 0: At York Catholic, the Irish won the home match, 25-6, 25-4, 25-10. Hope Leavy-Gaskins led the Irish with four aces and three kills. Also for YC, Shannon Toomey had five kills, Payton Murphy had six aces and Grace Shelley had three kills and three blocks.
South Western 3, Spring Grove 1: At Hanover, Ali St. Rose led the Mustangs to the 25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 25-13 victory with 21 kills, 17 digs and three aces. Also for South Western, Emma Filipovits had 11 kills and 18 digs, while Jacy Crouse had 42 assists and eight digs. For the Rockets, Kaylyn Zeigler had 13 kills and eight digs, Maddie Ruhland had 30 assists, 10 digs and three aces and Hailey Wolfe had nine kills, seven digs and three aces.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.