For at least the last four years, the York-Adams League semifinal round has been an insurmountable hurdle for the Susquehannock boys’ soccer team.
After a big second-half performance against South Western, however, the Warriors have finally advanced past the semifinal step and will now play for a league title.
Susquehannock scored three times in the second half to extend a narrow halftime lead to defeat the Mustangs, 4-1, at Red Lion High School and advance to Thursday’s championship game against Biglerville, which blanked West York in the other semifinal, 3-0. The title contest is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Bermudian Springs.
“This is something the guys set as a goal in the beginning of the year,” Warriors’ head coach Brett Maxwell said about reaching the league finals. “My focus is getting to the state tournament and this is kind of like a preseason for that in a way, but this is something the guys put as one of their main goals, so I’m happy they’re getting a shot at it.”
Jason Weger scored on a penalty kick early in the first half to give Susky a 1-0 lead. It stayed that way until halftime. The Warriors then came out and dominated the second half. In a nine-minute stretch, Susquehannock scored three times to build a 4-0 lead.
Weger assisted on the second goal by sending in a perfectly-placed corner that found Grayson Murray to make it 2-0. An own goal by South Western made it 3-0 and then David Muriel-Diaz tapped home a well-placed free kick from Ben Wilson to make it 4-0.
The Mustangs did get a consolation goal in the closing minutes to avoid getting shut out, with Spencer Wells heading one home off the crossbar after a flurry in front of the Warriors’ goal.
“I thought the second half we played really well,” Maxwell said. “The first half, I wasn’t real happy with our level of play. … We talked at halftime about getting back and playing the way we’re capable of and moving the ball to feet and controlling the pace and I thought the beginning of the second half until about 25 minutes in, we really did that. That 25 minutes of soccer was some of the best soccer we’ve played in a while.”
Biglerville moves on: While it's had much success in recent years, one thing Biglerville hasn't achieved is a boys' soccer league title.
The Canners will get that chance Thursday when they meet Susquehannock for the York-Adams crown after blanking West York at Northeastern.
The Canners, who knocked off Gettysburg in the quarterfinals, scored three first-half goals to put West York in a hole it couldn't dig out of.
"We came out blazing, that's for sure," Biglerville coach Jebb Nelson said. "This team is really focused and really unselfish. I think that's two of our better qualities."
For West York, which had stunned Division I champion Central York in the quarterfinals, its season is likely over. The Bulldogs are now 8-10 and probably won't make the District 3 tournament.
Senior Roberto Garcia got the scoring started for the Canners when he made an unlikely goal from about 30 yards out that soared over the outstretched hand of goalie Connor Garrick.
"To tell you the truth, I was trying to cross it, but it went in," Garcia said with a big smile. "I guess it was all the adrenaline."
Biglerville made it 2-0 about nine minutes later on a goal by Lazaro Salazar and before the half was complete, Christian Saldivar added another one on an assist from Carlos Castillo.
"We've had a couple of crazy goals on this field," Nelson said. "A few years ago, we had a goal in a district game from about the same spot."
Although West York did put more pressure on the goal in the final half, it couldn't sneak a shot past goalie Logan Kane.
Now, the Canners get ready for a rematch with Susquehannock. The Warriors prevailed 3-2 in a previous meeting.
"It will be a tough, physical game," Salazar said. "They like to bump and bang, but we'll be ready."
Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org. George Hammond contributed to this report.