The Susquehannock girls' team and the York Catholic boys' squads reached the league championship games with semifinal victories. Warriors coach Steve Marshner and Irish coach Shane Harper discussed the wins and what lies ahead in their title games. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch
With most of his teammates engaged in celebration Wednesday night on the turf at Central York High, York Catholic boys’ lacrosse player Kyle Dormer gave his squad a simple reminder.
“We still have Central. We still have Central. The journey is not done,” Dormer barked.
One couldn’t blame the Irish for the joyous outburst, however. They had just collected a thrilling 11-9 victory over Susquehanock in the semifinals of the York-Adams League playoffs. Dormer’s message, however, provided quick perspective.
What awaits the Irish now is a league championship game Friday at about 7:30 p.m. at Red Lion High against undefeated defending league champion Central York, which routed Dallastown in the other semifinal, 20-8. The Panthers captured the 2017 crown against the Irish. At that time, it was the Irish who were defending a title.
In an incredible see-saw affair that featured eight ties and nine lead changes, York Catholic found itself clinging to a 9-8 lead late in the fourth quarter, with possession of the ball.
Catholic’s Chandler Hake drew multiple defenders, and sensing a defender had slid away from him, Dimitri Amalfitano called for the ball. Hake found Amalfitano on the right wing, and Amalfitano used a shot fake and nice dodge past a stick check to get away from a closing Warriors defender.
He then raced a few steps toward the goal before bouncing off his right foot and firing one to the top-right corner of the net past Susky keeper Connor Kernan to give the Irish the game’s first two-goal lead, 10-8.
“As soon as I knew (the defender) was running at me, I just caught it and made a move,” Amalfitano said. “I wasn’t going to shoot because we were up already. Connor’s a good goalie, so I had to pick a little top right.”
The score capped a five-goal night for Amalfitano. He also had an assist. Hake recorded a hat trick.
Catholic head coach Shane Harper said the Irish were motivated by a loss earlier in the season to the Warriors when his club fell into an early hole. They got things going later, but couldn’t completely recover.
“The fact that we lost the last game, I think that really played into (Wednesday),” Harper said. “I think if we won, we would have just thought we could roll toward the end. But since it was a close game and we lost the last one, we knew (Susquehannock) had it in them. I think that loss helped us pull through.”
The contest might not have been as close if it wasn't for Kernan. The Warriors needed every one of his 14 saves on a night that saw Susky outshot 38-22.
Adam Rebich scored two goals and had an assist to lead the Warriors. Teammate Colin Kernan added two more goals.
Panthers roll: Led by big nights from Ryan Fahs (five goals, four assists) and Alex Kilgour (five goals, two assists), the Panthers ran away from the Wildcats in the second half in the other semifinal.
It was a contest that got a little heated at times..
“This is how it’s been the last couple of years that we played them,” Central York coach Ryan Muller said. “So that’s what we expected.”
Several hard fouls and a few noncalls drew the ire of both coaching staffs. At one point, the referee had to bring Muller and Dallastown coach Joe Slessinger together to tell them to get their players in line. That message seemed to spark the Panthers, who scored five goals in a two-plus-minute span midway through the fourth quarter to pull away for good.
“Once we get momentum, that’s what this game is all about,” Muller said.
A great deal of credit for generating that momentum lies with face-off specialist Kollin Vaught. The senior won 25 of 29 draws, with the last one being his 1,000th career face-off victory. According to Muller, not only is that a school record, it's likely a league record as well.
“That is just amazing,” Muller said. “I’m not sure anyone’s ever done that before.”
Vaught knew he was closing in on the mark earlier this season.
“Honestly I kind of knew I had a chance tonight, but I didn’t want that to get into my head,” Vaught said. “I just really wanted to focus on the team winning this game tonight.”
Vaught was glad to get his history-making face-off victory out of the way in the semifinal. That’s because he knows he’s going to be up against one of his toughest foes in the circle Friday against York Catholic’s Drew Snellbaker.
“I love Drew,” he said. “He’s probably one of my top (rivals) here. So I’m really looking forward to facing off with him.”