RED LION — Coming off a timeout with 2 minutes and 10 seconds left in a tie contest against rival Dallastown, Red Lion boys' lacrosse coach Stefan Striffler decided to call for a play named Drexel.
It turned out, however, that Drexel didn't play out the way he drew it up.
Fortunately that was a good thing. The Wildcat defense over pursued the ball, leaving Zack Mentzer wide open on the right side of the field. Elijah Workinger found Mentzer, who beat the goalie to give his team the lead.
The visitors had one last gasp to even the score, but the Red Lion defense came up with a big turnover before running out the clock for a thrilling 11-10 triumph at Horn Field Tuesday evening.
Red Lion improved to 11-4 overall and 9-3 in the York-Adams League, while the Wildcats fell to 11-3 and 8-3 in the league.
“This was a gigantic win," Striffler said. "If we didn't win this game we were in a world of hurt.”
Drexel was a similar play that was called late in last week's loss to York Catholic. Unlike then, this time it worked out, albeit in a different way than it was supposed to.
“We run it from (the x) behind the goal," Striffler said. "And it really didn't work at first. We have an initial dodge and a series of picks, but they didn't really work. What happened was that their defense went with all the picks and then, all of a sudden, the initial pick guy (Mentzer) was wide open on the back side. And that's why I tell these guys that you have to be patient.”
That winning play may not have happened had it not been for some quick late-game thinking by Striffler. Senior standout Sam Emig, who scored twice Tuesday, made a half-circle from behind the net into the area in front. Emig, however, was knocked down and nearly lost possession before Striffler used his final timeout to save possession.
“I was taught that you want to save your timeouts for late in the game," said a visibly upbeat Striffler. "You need them for that.”
That set the stage for the game-winner, which came with 1:42 left in regulation.
The Wildcats were able to gain possession with a chance to even it up. But while advancing the ball into their offensive zone, an errant pass sailed across the midfield stripe, where the Lions took control. From that point on, the visitors never possessed the ball again. Emig ran behind the net as the final horn sounded.
“If we didn't win this game I don't think we would have a chance to make it into the (league) playoffs," Red Lion face-off specialist Mason Gauntt said. "And we want another home game. We still have Susquehannock and Cumberland Valley though.”
The Lions' showdown Thursday against the Warriors will carry a lot importance for both teams in their final league contest. Both sides are 9-3 in the league and can clinch a playoff spot with either a victory Thursday or a York Catholic triumph over Dallastown that same night.
Striffler, who pumped his fist and jumped up and down as his team rushed the field after the buzzer, would certainly prefer for his team to make it on their own accord.
“We definitely want to win," he said smiling. "But if other things go our way ... ah, we want to win against Susky. We always want to beat them and they always want to beat us too. So we want to win on Thursday.”
Ben Hornberger scored four times to lead a Red Lion attack that was without starter Trevor Reider (concussion). Gauntt, who won 19 of 23 face-offs for the evening, matched Emig with two goals.
With the setback Dallastown, which was paced by four goals from Tanner Haines, now faces a must-win against the Irish Thursday to make the league playoffs. Central York (12-0) has already clinched the No. 1 seed in the four-team playoffs, while York Catholic (9-2), Red Lion (9-3), Susquehannock (9-3), Dallastown (8-3) and York Suburban (7-4) are all still fighting for one of the final three berths.
Susquehannock 18, Dover 6: At Dover, Jacob Bedgar (five goals), Ian LeBlanc (two goals, assist), Ben Wilson (two goals, assist) and Zach Buchanon (two goals, assist) powered the Warriors. Cole Jesmer led Dover with four goals and an assist. Susquehannock improved to 11-4 overall and 9-3 in the York-Adams League.
Spring Grove 12, South Western 11: At Spring Grove, only three Rockets found the back of the net but they did so often enough for a home victory. Zeb Hollinger scored five goals, Dylan Griffiths scored four times and Tanner Bolton added three more goals to the Rockets attack. Carson Perry scored five goals to lead South Western.
York Catholic 25, Delone Catholic 8: At York Catholic, Eli Doyle scored a game-high seven goals to lead the Irish. Doyle added two assists. Matthew Cassidy and Dimitri Amalfitano each recorded four goals and four assists for York Catholic. Delone Catholic was led by five goals from Dillon Kadis.
Susquehannock 21, Dover 0: At Glen Rock, Gena Speights scored five times and Kayla Held and Rachel Marshner each added four more as the Warriors blanked the Eagles. Sam McGuire made four saves in goal to record the shutout. Susquehannock is 10-1-0 in the York-Adams League.
Kennard-Dale 26, York Suburban 6: At Fawn Grove, Emmie Dressel led the Rams by scoring four goals and adding six assists. Also for K-D, Gillian Zimmerman had four goals and two assists, Calie Swegon had three goals and two assists, Hannah Dandy and Maddie Day each had two goals and one assist and Claire Gamache had one goal and two assists. For the Trojans, Christina Cologen scored two goals. The Rams are 10-0-1 in the York-Adams League.
Red Lion 13, Dallastown 12: At Dallastown, Alyssa Adams led the Lions by scoring five goals. Also for the Lions, Emmy Harrington scored four goals, Sarah Simms had one goal and two assists, Peyton Shima scored two goals and Kaiya Edwards had one goal and one assist. For the Wildcats, Melissa Clapsaddle scored six goals, while Danni Dubios and Olivia Jackson each scored two goals.
New Oxford 13, Central York 7: At New Oxford, Raleigh Bateman led the Colonials to the home victory by scoring three goals and adding one assist. For the Panthers, Emily Kurland had two goals and one assist, while teammate Bayleigh Keater scored two goals.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.