GLEN ROCK — The West York boys' lacrosse team wore undershirts that read "Army of One."
The Red Lion team, meanwhile, donned ones that read "War Ready."
Both were appropriate, considering that for the second time this season, the two teams put each other through a pitched battle.
But, much like the first meeting, it was the Bulldogs who came out winners on Tuesday night, this time knocking off the Lions 11-9 in the York-Adams League semifinals.
The turning point in the contest didn't come until late in the third quarter, after much of the game was played neck and neck. Up until that moment, the largest lead in the game was one, but it was West York which finally surged ahead, mounting a 4-0 run that helped it turn a one-goal deficit into a 10-7 advantage. It was a lead the Bulldogs would never relinquish.
"They're a tough team," West York coach Rodney Tamblin said. "They're well coached. They got some ballplayers on that team. We know, we were missing some guys in the first game (a 10-9 overtime win by West York), but, we still knew they were going to bring everything they had."
It was Hunter Betz who put the Bulldogs ahead for good with just 2.8 seconds remaining in the third quarter, scoring on an off-balanced shot, all while taking a late hit.
"That was a little bit of a momentum changer," Betz said. "I knew Red Lion was going to come out and I knew it was going to be a back-and-forth game, but I'm glad we finally put one in and took the lead."
Up by three late in the game, West York didn't make closing out things easy on itself. Late penalties gave Red Lion chances to level the score, but strong defensive play and timely saves by goalie Cole Rinehart helped preserve the Bulldogs' lead.
"We stress and we say how we're glad to have a solid defense at West York for a number of years," Tamblin said. "The guys know the roles they gotta play. They just know their assignments and what's asked and they stick with the game plan."
In total, there were three lead changes and seven ties in the contest.
Both goalies played well enough to earn victories, but it was Rinehart's 10-save effort that earned West York a berth into Thursday night's championship game. Freshman goalie Nick Serrano made 15 saves for the Lions.
Betz finished with a game-high six points for the Bulldogs, coming on three goals and three assists. Seth Wise and Devyn Roehm each added three goals, while Roehm also notched two assists.
For Red Lion, Jac Gemmill led the way with three goals, while Tyler Dunlap, Sam Emig and Tanner Reif each netted two.
West York will face Susquehannock on Thursday night for the league championship, getting a shot at redemption after losing to the Warriors earlier in the season. And the Bulldogs will have a chance to hoist the title on Susquehannock's own turf.
"We're looking forward to playing Susky again," Betz said. "I know they played us (at home) and beat us bad (14-6), but hopefully we can come back out and play our lacrosse."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org