Every year, the current crop of Central York boys' lacrosse players will play an alumni game against former members.
In the latest edition, this group of Panthers beat the alumni team. However, guys on the alumni team were quick to come back that they had won a York-Adams League title before. Nobody on this year's squad ever had. It was the one thing the alumni had over the current Central York players.
The Panthers completed their unbeaten run through the Y-A League this season on Friday night, defeating defending champion York Catholic, 16-8, at Central York High School to finally get the monkey off their backs and hang a banner of their own.
"We used that as motivation," Central York head coach Tom Mayne said about the alumni holding it over the current players that they hadn't won a championship. "I said, 'They're right. We have nothing.' We've been a good team that hasn't achieved any great success. I never set goals, but I set one back in the winter and said, 'Let's go out and tell ourselves that we're going to win a championship.'"
Fresh off a dominating performance in the semifinal round on Wednesday night when the top-seeded Panthers dismantled No. 4 Dallastown, 17-3, Central picked up right where it left off.
After conceding the first goal of the game to the second-seeded Fighting Irish, the Panthers rolled the rest of the way. They used a 7-0 run over the remainder of the first quarter and into the second quarter to build a 7-1 cushion and had really had no problems the rest of the way.
By halftime, Central built a 10-4 advantage, which eventually ballooned up to 14-6 heading into the final frame. Even in the fourth quarter, the Panthers gave York Catholic the smallest sliver of a chance to get back into the game by taking three consecutive penalties, but all the Fighting Irish could muster on their three-man advantage was a single goal, completely ending any final threat of a comeback.
"We were in awe at first by how well they were playing," York Catholic head coach Shane Harper said. "It took us seven goals to really get a good feel that we need to step it up, or it's going to be really ugly and Central has the ability to do lots of things."
There probably wasn't one particular aspect of the game that Central didn't do well, save the three-minute stretch of undisciplined play to begin the fourth quarter. Everything else, however, was nearly perfect.
It started at the face-off dot where University of Maryland-Baltimore County commit Kollin Vaught displayed his dominance, winning nearly every face-off to get the Panthers' attack the ball time and time again. That led to plenty of opportunities for the balanced Central offense, which didn't squander many of them.
Then, at the other end of the field, when the Fighting Irish did get their precious opportunities, it took them a while to really generate a good look at goal, a product of tight man-to-man defense by the Panthers. Then, when shots were put on goal, the goalie duo of Blaze Hake and Eric Mirkovich came up with timely stops to stymie the potent York Catholic attack.
"I would say I was surprised," Mayne said of his team's overall dominance. "We're a good team, but York Catholic's a very good team as well. ...We've been playing conservative and I told them to stop playing conservative and go out and play our game and force teams to chase us and that's what we've done the last two games."
T.J. Ross led Central York with five goals and two assists, while Connor Hoch added four. Ryan Kilgour scored the first two goals for the Panthers before leaving with a head injury and, while he was OK to return to action, according to Mayne, the coaching staff held him out. Drake Little also scored two goals, while Ryan Fahs added a goal and two assists.
For the Fighting Irish, their lethal attack was held mostly in check. The state's leading goal-scorer, Eli Doyle, was held to just three goals, while Steven Nigro added two goals and two assists.
Both teams will now head toward the District 3 tournament, where the Panthers are the No. 3 seed in Class 3-A and York Catholic is the No. 2 seed in 2-A.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org