The Central York boys' lacrosse team remained unbeaten on the year by picking up a tough 10-9 road victory at York Catholic. Panthers head coach Ryan Muller, who used to play for Irish head coach Shane Harper, and Harper discussed the game after. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch
It’s not as though the Central York boys’ lacrosse team needed any extra motivation for Tuesday’s battle with York Catholic.
The undefeated Panthers are in the midst of a season when they’re looking to defend a York-Adams League title — one that was earned on the strength of a perfect run through league play. Furthermore, the host Irish, also unbeaten in league play coming in, represented one of Central's hurdles to another crown.
Adding to the excitement, however, was a sideline situation that made the clash even more familiar. Central York head coach Ryan Muller is a 2009 York Catholic graduate and he played under Irish head coach Shane Harper.
The two admitted afterward that the connection made Tuesday’s tussle even more special.
“We were teasing each other back and forth and he said something like ‘everything you know, I taught you,’ and I was like ‘OK, Shane,’” Muller said of facing his former coach.
“Me, having gone here and playing for Shane, it was kind of interesting all week looking forward to it. … But he’s a great guy, a great coach, and it’s always fun to beat him. It was my first time back (as a head coach), so I was a little nervous, but I’m excited to get out of here with a win.”
While the Panthers are a team that tends to stand out on offense, it was a shutdown performance late from its experienced defensive unit that saw Central hang on for a 10-9 road triumph.
A defense that returns all of its starters from a season ago needed several stops in the final minutes, but none was more important than the last.
With 17 seconds left, the Irish had possession at midfield coming out of a timeout. Standout attack Cole Witman was tasked with taking the ball toward the net for a potential game-tying effort.
However, the Panthers’ duo of attack/midfield Ryan Fahs and long-stick midfield Jesse Behler pressured Witman’s advance. The pair sandwiched Witman and the contact eventually forced the ball loose, only to be scooped up by Central defender Robert Stockbower.
The Panthers cleared the threat and preserved the victory.
“We played hard. I think toward the end there we were a little jittery trying to do things really quickly because we felt we needed to rush to get things done,” Harper said. “We had the opportunities to get things done, they just didn’t fall our way. Playing 10-9 against the best team in the league, it’s tough. Central is a great program, great players. For us, it was just the nervousness of coming down to the wire.”
The win keeps the Panthers at 5-0 both overall and in the league. They trail only Dallastown, which is 6-0. The Panthers host the Wildcats in a pivotal showdown Friday.
The Irish fell to 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the league.
Winning goal: With the score knotted at 9-9 late in the fourth quarter, Central’s Connor Hoch got the ball high on the circle and put a stutter step on his defender before charging to his right on an angle toward Irish keeper Jarred Kohl.
Hoch absorbed some contact from his recovering defender before firing a point-blank shot past Kohl to put the Panthers ahead by the final margin with 3:01 left to play.
The Irish nearly pulled off a terrific comeback effort, trailing by two entering the fourth quarter at 8-6 before seeing Joey Fiorenza and Chandler Hake go back to back to even the game early in the fourth quarter.
Ryan Kilgour’s second goal of the day had the Panthers ahead temporarily before Hake finished off his hat trick, setting the stage for Hoch’s heroics.
Panthers strong in middle: By Muller’s estimation, his Panthers are bunch that thrives in the middle of the game, and Tuesday’s tilt was no exception.
Trailing after the first quarter, Central went on a 4-1 scoring stretch that ran into the third quarter. Fahs' first of three goals got the spree started and evened the score at 3-3 early in the second quarter. The run ended with Kilgour’s first of the day to put the Panthers ahead 7-4 early in the third.
“Usually in the middle of the game, second and third quarter, is when we’re best,” Muller said. “We’ve been coming out very flat. Three out of four games so far we’ve come out and have been losing at some point, so we need to work on that. But usually the second and third quarter, it’s tough to play with us.”
Irish strong at start: Witman, a Johns Hopkins commit, got the game’s scoring started when he whipped around the backside of the goal before coming around the right, planting hard on his left leg and rifling a shot that beat Panthers keeper Blaze Hake short side.
The Irish went up a pair when Dimitri Amalfitano got the ball high on the right wing midway through the opening quarter.
Amalfitano called out the defense in front of him before engaging his defender one-on-one. He then made a quick cut left, darted towards center with a stutter step inside before another cut left and uncorking a sidearm shot that sniped the top right corner for a 3-1 lead.
Hake led the Irish with three goals and Witman and Andrew Snelbaker added two more each. Amalfitano also had an assist.
Alex Kilgour scored three goals for Central and Ryan Kilgour and Hoch each added assists to their efforts.
Eastern York 18, Dover 3: At Dover, Bryce Henise led the Golden Knights to the victory by scoring seven goals. Also for Eastern, Cadeyn Michael scored three goals, while Gavin Evans, Jake Crumling and Zach Grove each scored two goals.
York Suburban 19, Delone Catholic 6: At Suburban, Dominic Corto had nine points (six goals, three assists) to lead Suburban. The Trojans also got big nights from Austin Sipes (four goals, four assists), Evan LeCates (three goals) and Bryce Gavin (two goals). Dillon Kadis had three Delone goals.
Susquehannock 12, South Western 6: At Glen Rock, Colin Kernan (five goals, assist), Jacob Bedgar (two goals, two assists), Ian LeBlanc (two goals, assist), Adam Rebich (two goals) and Gavin Held (goal, assist) led the Warriors. Braden Dunn had three South Western goals.
Kennard-Dale 22, West York 6: At West York, Megan Halczuk scored a game-high six goals to lead the Rams. K-D also got five goals from Maddie Day and three each from Amelie Gamache and Autumn Kramer. West York was led by three goals from Sydney Sweitzer.
Eastern York 10, Dover 5: At Wrightsville, Addison Malone (four goals, three assists) and Chelsea Forsyth (four goals) powered Eastern. Paige Lartz had four goals and an assist for Dover. Emily Bodien had seven saves to get the win in goal.
Red Lion 20, Spring Grove 11: At Spring Grove, Peyton Shima's eight goals and four assists powered Red Lion. Sara Simms (two goals, five assists), Kaiya Edwards (four goals), Emily Harrington (three goals) and Sam Collis (two goals) also had multiple-point nights for the winners.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.