HANOVER — There was no question that the Central York boys’ lacrosse team was hungry going into Wednesday’s York-Adams League playoff semifinal against Susquehannock.
Hungry for a chance to make it to the finals and win a league title?
Hungry to hand their old coach, Susquehannock’s Tom Mayne, another setback?
Hungry for Chick-fil-A nuggets as a reward?
After completing the regular season on a high note, Central coach Ryan Muller bought his team some nuggets. Perhaps Muller was joking when he told his players that if they held the Warriors to under five goals that we would do it again. His team, however, took him very seriously.
Leading 7-4 in the fourth quarter, the Panther defense put the lid on the Susquehannock attack over the final six minutes to claim a 10-4 triumph.
The victory sets up a showdown Friday for the league crown when the Panthers will take on regular-season champ York Catholic at Eastern York High School. The Irish rolled to a 13-6 triumph over Red Lion in the other semifinal Wednesday.
“I was teasing the defense the other night that if they held (Susquehannock) to four or less goals that we would get everyone chicken nuggets,” Muller said. “And they came out and they did it.”
The Panthers' defense kept the Warriors off the board in the first and fourth quarters. A three-goal spurt in the second period by Susquehannock, however, certainly put some doubt in the minds of the CY players that they would be able to achieve their goal.
Muller, however, knew that his defense was capable of pulling off the feat. All he had to do is point to the second half, when his team limited the opposition to just a single goal for evidence.
“Other than that five-minute stretch where they got those three goals our defense played great,” Muller said. “That’s something that I know that they can do. It’s just them going out there and doing it.”
Fahs excels for Panthers: The defense was not the only bright spot for Muller and his squad Wednesday. Attacker Ryan Fahs found the back of the net four times to match the entire Warriors' side.
“Ryan’s game has really evolved this year,” Muller said. “He was more of just a shooter, but now he’s also a feeder.”
Fahs added an assist to go with his four goals to make for a five-point night. That total might have been bigger had it not been for Warrior goalie Connor Kernan, who recorded 16 saves.
“Connor is a great goalie,” Fahs said. “I play club lacrosse with him and he’s just great. He was stopping a lot of my shots, but I just kept taking my shots.”
After struggling in the first quarter, eventually the Panthers were able to find a groove against the Susquehannock zone defense as the game progressed.
“Connor always keeps them in the game,” Muller said. “And he allows them to play that zone defense, which makes it hard to find openings. But in the second half we kind of figured out that the crease was open and we were able to get the ball there and finish.”
York Catholic next: Finishing has been a theme for the Panthers all year. It’s not a coincidence that much of that theme originates from a regular-season loss against York Catholic in overtime.
“The last three times we’ve played it’s been a one-goal game,” Muller said of the rivalry with YC. “And the last two it’s been in overtime. It hasn’t gone our way the last two times so we’ve got to try to buckle down a little bit and make sure it comes out for our side this time.”
Figuring that Wednesday’s extra motivation proved to be a hit, Muller was asked if the same kind of wager is on the table for Friday’s title contest.
“If we hold them (York Catholic) under five we might have to do a little bit more than just Chick-fil-A,” he said with a smile.
Chandler Hake scored six goals in the Irish win over Red Lion. York Catholic is now 17-0 overall. Central stands at 14-2. Red Lion fell to 13-4 and Susquehannock dropped to 12-5.
Eastern York 11, Daniel Boone 7: Bryce Henise (two goals, three assists), Cadyn Michael (three goals), Gavin Evans (two goals), Jake Crumling (two goals), Gage Barton (two goals) and Kade Wiley (10 saves) led Eastern to the nonleague win.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.