Wednesday’s District 3 Class 1-A boys’ soccer quarterfinal between York Catholic and Fairfield was similar to the old novel by Charles Dickens.
For the Irish, instead of a "Tale of Two Cities," it was a tale of two York Catholic teams.
The one YC team was slow and a sloppy at times. The other one was quick and effective in passing the ball, while finishing nearly every chance it had.
The first Irish team was the one that fell behind by a three-goal margin against a Green Knights side that it had defeated twice during the regular season.
Fortunately for coach Joe Nattans, the second YC team completely dominated en route to blitzing Fairfield with five consecutive goals in the final 21 minutes to earn a 5-3 triumph.
York Catholic, the No. 2 seed in the district draw, will next play host to third-seeded Camp Hill (11-5-3), which won in penalty kicks on Wednesday over sixth-seeded Antietam (13-7). The York Catholic-Camp Hill semifinal is set for 5 p.m. Saturday.
“I wish we could put two solid halves together to not allow this to happen,” Nattans said after his team improved to 17-4. “This was the second time this year that we were down three goals.”
The other instance happened when the Irish faced Antietam, which was ranked first in the district power ratings at that time. York Catholic rallied strongly in that game to win, 4-3.
“We had already been in this position before,” YC standout Ben Bullen said. “So we knew that the score wasn’t the issue.”
The issue Wednesday was the f-word that all soccer coaches preach – finish. The 10th-seeded Green Knights (11-8-1) only had four or five good chances all night, but they finished three of them to stake out to a big lead.
The Irish, on the other hand, were looking to be a little too "pretty," according to Nattans. Instead of taking every good shot they had, they appeared to try to make an extra pass that probably was unnecessary.
“We know that we have the ability to (come back) when we need to,” Nattans said. “So we know that we’re resilient and we never get too down on ourselves.”
Trailing 2-0 at the half, Nattans opted to go a different route than he did throughout the season with his chat.
“I usually try to stay positive, but tonight I really got after them,” he said. “I told them flat out that they couldn’t just play like that and expect to walk all over them.”
That tactic paid off. The Irish seemingly flipped a switch to become more like a team that one would see in a video game, rather than a high school outfit. Bullen used his ability to dribble around and past Fairfield defenders at will while setting up his teammates for scores.
Pasen Maynard tallied two goals, while Colin Smith, Tyler Anthony and Josiah Olsen added markers during a terrific 18-minute stretch that flipped the contest.
“We like to stay positive,” Bullen said. “We don’t like to get down on people.”
For Bullen, getting that first goal with 21 minutes left in the contest was crucial.
“(Pasen’s) goal really gave us some momentum,” he said. “We started to move the ball and get it out wide more where we could drive and we were able to finish the crosses.”
Fairfield 6, Mount Calvary 0: At Fairfield, the second-seeded Green Knights (20-1) cruised into the District 3 Class 1-A semifinals with a win vs. seventh-seeded Mount Calvary (10-6-1). Nora Clarke and Naia Roberts each had two goals for Fairfield. In Saturday's semifinal, Fairfield will play third-seeded Annville-Cleona (12-5-1) at 3 p.m. at Gettysburg Middle School. Annville-Cleona beat sixth-seeded Harrisburg Christian (8-5) on Wednesday.
Camp Hill 8, York Catholic 0: At Camp Hill, the eighth-seeded Lady Irish saw their season end at 8-12 with a District 3 Class 1-A quarterfinal loss. Top-seeded Camp Hill improved to 19-0.
Eastern York 1, Littlestown 0: At Dover, Addison Malone scored with 41 seconds left to give Eastern the District 3 Class 1-A first-round victory. The sixth-seeded Golden Knights improved to 15-4. The 11th-seeded Lady Bolts finished at 13-7. Eastern will next take on 14th-seeded Bishop McDevitt (12-7) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Penn Manor. McDevitt downed third-seeded Northern Lebanon (17-2-1) in overtime on Wednesday, 1-0.
South Western 5, Shippensburg 2: At York Springs, Albanie Hersh's hat trick pushed the Mustangs into District 3 Class 2-A quarterfinals. Fourth-seeded South Western improved to 17-3. No. 13 seed Shippensburg finished at 9-6-3. Next up for the Mustangs at 3 p.m. Saturday is fifth-seeded Twin Valley (14-7), which earned a 5-0 win vs. 12th-seeded Red Land (9-10) on Wednesday. Saturday's game is slated for Penn Manor.
Bermudian Springs 4, Camp Hill 0: At Dover, the fourth-seeded Eagles (19-3) cruised to a District 3 Class 1-A first-round win over 13th-seeded Camp Hill (10-9). In the quarterfinals at 3 p.m. Saturday at West Perry, Bermudian will face fifth-seeded Boiling Springs (16-2-1). Boiling Springs beat 12th-seeded Annville-Cleona (10-4-3) on Wednesday, 4-1.
Manheim Central 4, Susquehannock 0: At Hempfield, the 11th-seeded Warriors saw their season end at 10-9 with a District 3 Class 2-A first-round loss to sixth-seeded Manheim Central (14-5-1).
Berks Catholic 2, New Oxford 1: At Exeter, 10th-seeded New Oxford saw its season end at 12-9 with a 2-1 loss to seventh-seeded Berks Catholic (16-4) in a District 3 Class 2-A first-round contest.
Cedar Cliff 3, Central York 1: At Mechanicsburg, the 11th-seeded Panthers dropped the District 3 Class 3-A first-round game to finish at 14-8. No. 6 seed Cedar Cliff improved to 15-3-1.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.