RED LION — After Gettysburg defeated Central York in last year’s York-Adams League boys’ soccer championship game, the Panthers were eager to exact some revenge against the Warriors in this year’s title game Thursday night.
After the Division II co-champs took an early lead on a goal by Matt Yingling, however, one thought had to creep into the minds of the Central fans — here we go again. The Warriors had several more very good chances to extend the lead later in the first half, as well as early in the second.
Surviving those scoring chances, however, seemed to bolster the confidence of the Panthers, who eventually were able to even the score with 25 minutes left.
Against a team with the speed and talent of Gettysburg, however, it only took one more chance to break Central’s hearts again.
After an initial corner kick was cleared out to the side of the field of the original kick, Drew Wivell was able to cross a perfect feed to Cade Wilhelm in the box. Wilhelm was able to get his head on the ball and direct it past Central goalie Kameron Stoll for the game-winner with 4:26 left, sending the Warriors to a thrilling 2-1 triumph.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Central coach Frank Lenno said. “I think both teams had some great chances, but they were able to capitalize on a ball to the back post with a great finish.”
Had it not been for some outstanding work by Stoll, the contest could have easily gotten out of hand. Yingling, a gifted player with both speed and touch, twice was able to get behind the Panther defense with only Stoll to beat. Both times Stoll was able to make incredible saves to keep his team within a goal.
“He’s getting better and better every game,” Lenno said of his junior goalie. “He came up big for us all game, but I don’t think he had a chance on that last one at all."
If Stoll wasn't stopping the Gettysburg attack, his best friends — the crossbar and post — were doing their part. Within the first two minutes of the second half, the Warriors twice had golden scoring opportunities foiled by the cage.
Those close calls seemed to give more life to the Panthers. Lenno’s club was able to generate several chances leading up to a corner opportunity 15 minutes into the final half. Senior standout Pierrce Miller lofted the corner into a perfect spot for teammate Nicholas Starr, who headed the feed into the net. Starr’s tally evened the contest at 1-1, while also instilling some life into the Central fans.
The Panthers, though, were unable to turn that newfound momentum into a go-ahead goal. After the teams traded opportunities, it was a corner that the Warriors earned with under five minutes left that made the difference.
“At the end of the day, they buried a ball in the end and we did not,” Lenno said. “They’ve got some speed up top and that’s extremely dangerous. They put pressure on people.”
While the silver medals were not satisfying for Central, competing against a team the caliber of Gettysburg is something that Lenno hopes will help his team as they transition into the District 3 playoffs next week.
“I’m extremely proud of my boys,” he said. “I just hope we don’t see another team like them with that type of pace.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.