Ask anyone ever associated with the Dallastown-Red Lion rivalry and they'll tell you that, no matter the sport, every game, every match or every meet means just a little bit more than normal.
Bragging rights are on the line between the two schools separated by just three miles.
For athletes of high school age, those rivalry battles mean everything.\
For the past three-plus years, the rivalry between the boys' lacrosse teams had been one-sided, wholly dominated by the Wildcats, winners of seven straight meetings. That means that the entire Lions senior class, and fourth-year head coach Stefan Striffler, had never tasted victory against their cross-town foes. So you can bet that Wednesday's early-season match-up meant just a little bit more than the typical showdown.
For three quarters, it looked like Red Lion (1-1) would finally end the streak, leading 5-1 going into the fourth quarter. But, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, Dallastown scored five unanswered goals to take a 6-5 lead with less than a minute to play. The Lions were staring an eighth straight loss to Dallastown square in the face.
With just 15 seconds left in regulation, however, Red Lion freshman attacker Elijah Workinger scored the tying goal to force overtime. Then, just 38 seconds into the extra frame, he ended not only the game, but the Lions' long losing streak to the Wildcats, by scoring a sudden-death goal to give the Lions a 7-6 victory at Horn Field.
"What (the team) was thinking was: 'This is Dallastown.' The senior class has never beaten them. We've lost to them seven times in a row. Just win the damn game," Striffler said. "Don't worry about what happened. Just worry about going forward and win the damn game."
It would've been easy for Red Lion to concede defeat once the Wildcats (1-1) capped their 5-0 fourth-quarter run with a final-minute goal by Andrew Kvasnovsky. After all, the Lions had also blown a fourth-quarter lead in its first game against Lampeter-Strasburg. Workinger, however, wouldn't let the Lions blow this one, despite all the momentum being on the visitors' side.
Despite dominating the first three quarters of the game, Red Lion could never quite put away Dallastown, even though the 5-1 score at the beginning of the fourth quarter told otherwise. At that point, it easily could've been a seven- or eight-goal cushion for the Lions, had it not been for Wildcats' goalie, Jack Marks, keeping his team in the game.
"Jack Marks is the best goalie in York County and he's been the last three years," Striffler said. "...He's a great goalie and we knew that coming in. We knew we were probably going to dominate face-offs, but we knew that we were going to be facing a goalie who was going to be saving everything under the sun, so that's how it worked."
With Marks keeping Dallastown within striking distance through three quarters, all the Wildcats' offense needed was a spark. It got that with two goals in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter from Braven Morris and Ser Greene to make things interesting. Then, after a Tanner Haines goal made it 5-4 with a little more than four minutes to go, Nicholas Shima earned an non-releasable, three-minute unsportsmanlike penalty for throwing his stick in frustration at himself, to give the Wildcats the chance they needed to not only tie the game, but take the lead. Haines capitalized midway through it to draw the game level at 5-5 with less than two minutes to play, and then Kvasnovsky gave his team its first lead of the game with his second goal of the afternoon.
All Dallastown had to do was hold on for the final 45 seconds and it would have its second come-from-behind victory of the young season. It just couldn't win the all-important final face-off, leading to Workinger's second of three goals that forced OT.
"This team shows a lot of heart and experience," first-year Wildcats head coach Joe Slessinger said. "You have to commend them on that. They can't hang their head on this. They played a hell of a game coming back."
Kvasnovsky and Haines led Dallastown with two goals each, while Morris and Greene each had one. Playing in just his second varsity game, Workinger netted a hat-trick for Red Lion, scoring the final three goals for his team, while Sam Emig, Sam Posey, Jac Gemmill and Colton Rider each scored once.
Jack Marks made 22 saves in the cage for the Wildcats, while Matt Hale stopped six for the Lions.
Kennard-Dale 18, Kennett 10: At Kennett, facing arguably their toughest opponent on the regular-season schedule, the Rams eased past Kennett on the road. K-D got a huge effort from Maddie Day, scoring four goals and adding three assists. Morgan Bowings added three goals and an assist, while Claire Gamache, Hannah Bracey, Gillian Zimmerman and Megan Halczuk all scored twice. Sophomore goalie Clare Boone made 13 saves in the cage for the Rams.
Dover 19, Mechanicsburg 2: The Eagles rolled behind eight goals from Sarah Kistner and six goals and three assists from Alex Digiovani. Dusti Getz (goal, three assists), Emma Long (two goals) and Riley Lawton (goal, assist) also had multiple-point outings. Shaely Gamble had four saves for Dover.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com