DALLASTOWN — There was a little buzz going around Wildcat Stadium Tuesday evening.
There was a sentiment among some that perhaps the Dallastown boys’ soccer team was unbeaten because it hadn’t played many tough opponents.
A District 3 Class 4-A semifinal showdown against a Palmyra program that won a state title 11 years ago was supposed to provide a sterner test for the Wildcats, who entered the night at 22-0 and nationally ranked.
The Cougars gave the Wildcats all they could handle throughout the night. The visitors, who came in with a 17-1-2 mark, even did something that few Dallastown opponents have done this year — take the lead.
A first-half tally by Mackenzie Fairs off a corner kick gave Palmyra a lead it would cling to well into the second half.
With their backs against the wall, however, the Wildcats showed exactly why they earned the billing as the top team in the state. After the Cougars mounted pressure with several throw-ins and a corner, the Dallastown boys countered down the field before Zander Leik pulled the home team even with 15:51 left in regulation.
In overtime, Gabe Wunderlich put the icing on his team’s comeback cake with the game-winning marker with 9:39 left in the first session, sending the Wildcats to the district final after a thrilling 2-1 triumph.
Headed to Hershey: Dallastown (23-0) will next play at Hersheypark Stadium Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. against third-seeded Central Dauphin (19-1-1), which won the other semifinal 3-1 over seventh-seeded Wilson (14-7-1).
“What a hell of a game,” Dallastown coach Andrew Foust said to his team in the post-game huddle. “Well done.”
Foust then set off a loud roar from his squad with the news that they would be playing under the bright lights for a District 3 title.
“We’re headed to Hershey,” Foust shouted as his team erupted with a loud cheer.
Not an easy win: It wasn’t easy. The Cougars gave everything they had, becoming just the second team in the postseason to take the lead on the Wildcats — the other time being when West York held a short-lived advantage in the York-Adams League semifinals.
A team with good skill and terrific ball pressure, the Y-A champion Wildcats eventually got the better of the Cougars as time wound down. After Leik tied up the contest, the Wildcats had a chance to win it in regulation with just more than three minutes left, but a shot on an empty net passed just wide of the left post.
Missing that chance could have been the opening that the Palmyra boys needed, but the home team didn’t afford them that chance. The Cougars players and staff knew as much.
“We play in a really tough division and we have a really tough schedule,” Palmyra assistant coach Collin Long said. “But we knew who we were facing. We knew who they were. And, honestly, that game could have gone any way.”
Notes: As he has done all season — with just one exception — Foust refused an official interview afterwards. He did promise to talk again after Saturday’s final. ... Dallastown is chasing its third District 3 boys' soccer title and its first since a 3-A crown in 2010. ... The Wildcats are No. 10 nationally in the USA Today Sports Super 25 Expert Rankings.
OTHER BOYS' SOCCER
Lancaster Mennonite 2, Biglerville 1: At York Springs, the Canners' season came to a close with a District 3 2-A semifinal loss. Biglerville finished at 18-3. Lancaster Mennonite improved to 12-5-1. Colby Martin scored a second-half goal for Biglerville, assisted by Christian Morales, to pull the Canners within 2-1, but they couldn't get the equalizer.
York Catholic 3, Lancaster Mennonite 0: At York, the Lady Irish had little difficulty rolling to the District 3 Class 2-A semifinals with a 25-11, 25-17 25-19 win. In the semifinals at 6 p.m. Thursday at Red Lion, the second-seeded Irish (17-1) will face a familiar foe in third-seeded Delone Catholic (17-2). Delone and York Catholic split their regular-season matches and shared the Y-A D-III title. Only the District 3 2-A champ will get a PIAA state berth, so the loser of Thursday's match will see its season end. In the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association 2-A state poll, York Catholic is ranked No. 3 and Delone is No. 4. Seventh-seeded Lancaster Mennonite finished at 6-10. York Catholic's stat leaders were Julia Yanick (11 digs), Madeline Walker (21 assists, eight aces) and Hope Leavy-Gaskins (12 kills, seven assists, four aces).
Delone Catholic 3, Hanover 0: At York, in a District 3 Class 2-A quarterfinal, the Squirettes beat York-Adams Division III rival Hanover for the third time this season, 25-18, 25-16, 25-15. Sixth-seeded Hanover finished at 11-10. Delone's stat leaders were Maddie Clabaugh (18 kills, 11 digs), Deanna Klunk (12 assists), Katie Kohler (18 assists) and Emma Schneider (25 digs)
West York 3, Fleetwood 0: At West York, the second-seeded Bulldogs advanced to the District 3 Class 3-A semifinals with a 25-21, 25-17, 25-19 triumph. West York, the defending PIAA Class 3-A state champion, improved to 20-1. Seventh-seeded Fleetwood finished at 13-6. West York will take on third-seeded Garden Spot (17-2) in Thursday's semifinals at 6 p.m. at Hempfield. Garden Spot earned a 3-0 win over sixth-seeded James Buchanan (17-5) in its quarterfinal match on Tuesday. The winner of Thursday's match will clinch a state berth. West York is ranked No. 5 in the state in 3-A by the PVCA. Garden Spot is unranked.
Central York 3, Waynesboro 0: At Central, the top-seeded Panthers rolled into the District 3 Class 4-A semifinals with a 25-23, 25-21, 25-10 win vs. eighth-seeded Waynesboro. Central improved to 14-1. Waynesboro finished at 14-6. Central will face fifth-seeded Central Dauphin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Dallastown in the semifinals. Tuesday's win clinched a state berth for Central.
Central Dauphin 3, South Western 0: At York, the Mustangs saw their season end with a 25-20, 25-20, 25-17 loss in a District 3 4-A quarterfinal match. Fourth-seeded South Western finished at 15-3. Fifth-seeded Central Dauphin improved to 14-3.
Berks Catholic 3, York Suburban 1: At Palmyra, the Trojans' were eliminated from the District 3 Class 3-A playoffs with a quarterfinal loss, 25-18, 16-25, 25-18, 25-22. The fifth-seeded Trojans finished at 15-4. Fourth-seeded Berks Catholic improved to 15-3. Suburban entered the game ranked No. 6 in the state in 3-A by the PVCA, while Berks Catholic was unranked.
Hempfield 3, Dallastown 0: At Hempfield, the York-Adams champions fell to second-seeded Hempfield in a District 3 Class 4-A quarterfinal, 25-19, 25-23, 25-13. The seventh-seeded Wildcats finished at 14-8. Hempfield, ranked No. 5 in the state in 4-A by the PVCA, improved to 17-0.
Trinity 3, Bermudian Springs 0: At Shiremanstown, the Shamrocks rolled past the Eagles in a District 3 2-A quarterfinal, 25-13, 25-8, 25-12. Top-seeded Trinity improved to 18-1. Eighth-seeded Bermudian finished at 8-9. Trinity is ranked No. 8 in the state in 2-A by the PVCA.
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