RED LION — Redemption is a strong motivator in sports.
While the victories are certainly sweet, the agony of defeat can stick around for quite some time.
While the Red Lion boys’ lacrosse team wasn’t suffering from any long-term disappointments when it squared off against Susquehannock Tuesday in a York-Adams League playoff semifinal showdown, the Lions still entered the contest looking to make amends.
Two weeks after suffering a loss in overtime to the Warriors, the Lions wanted to make sure they didn’t meet the same fate in the rematch.
After the two clubs felt each other out for large parts of the first half, Coach Stefan Striffler’s team found its groove midway through the second half.
Junior Sam Emig scored after Susquehannock drew within a goal late in the third quarter, sparking a four-goal run that helped propel Red Lion to a 12-9 triumph.
The Lions will face York Catholic in Thursday’s championship contest at 7 p.m. at Central York High School. The Irish downed Central York 14-8 in the other semifinal Tuesday.
“Better execution, honestly,” Emig said of the difference in the rematch. “We came together as a team. This is so exciting. We knew that we could do it.”
In the first meeting, the Lions scored just two goals in the second half when the Warriors rallied back to win in overtime. While Susquehannock closed an 8-5 deficit to within 8-7 late in the third period, it was Emig who helped stem any chances of a repeat.
“I don’t think I talked to anyone that night,” Emig said of the first meeting. “That was really disappointing.”
Justin Dashler finished with the final two goals of a 4-0 run that turned an 8-7 game into a 12-7 contest with five minutes left. The prolific scoring duo of Emig and Jac Gemmill each scored three goals.
One of the biggest differences in the second half for the Lions was their defensive adjustment against Susquehannock’s Dorian Faster. Faster, who scored the game-winner in Susquehannock’s regular-season victory, scored four goals in the first half when his team trailed by a 7-5 margin at the break. The Warrior standout managed just one goal in the second half, however.
“Dorian is an absolutely fantastic player,” Striffler said. “And we locked him off in the second half. We tried to stop him from getting the ball. The guy that was on him was not helping out and not playing team defense. He was just playing Dorian.”
Now the Lions are looking to not only win the league title for the first time ever, they are also looking to even up a long-held score against York Catholic.
As eighth-graders, the Red Lion seniors felt they were robbed when the Irish claimed a title four years ago. Now they have a chance to make things right on Thursday.
“These seniors, when they were in eighth grade lost to (York Catholic) in the championship game,” Striffler said. “And they don’t think they should have lost to them. There were some issues and some stuff that went on. It’s always been a sore spot for them.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.