The Dallastown Wildcats boys' lacrosse team defeated rival Red Lion, 12-11, to earn the final York-Adams League tournament playoff spot. Head coach Joe Slessinger and senior Ethan Pickett discussed the victory afterwards.
Dallastown boys’ lacrosse players Ethan Pickett and Tanner Haines heard their names called early and often during Monday’s match-up with backyard rival Red Lion.
The two Wildcats were among a large group of seniors recognized before the contest during Senior Night festivities on the Wildcats' turf. After garnering plenty of applause during the pregame ceremony, Pickett and Haines gave the home crowd plenty more reasons to smack their hands together once the game started.
Each player scored five goals to help Dallastown survive a furious late rally from the Lions before collecting a tight, 12-11 victory.
“We just played our best, did what we could,” Pickett said. “We were lucky to get a good defensive turn away and it led it to victory. Now we’re in counties, so it’s nice.”
The win was crucial for the Wildcats (12-3 overall, 10-3 York-Adams League). It locks up the final spot for the league playoffs, which start Wednesday. Dallastown enters as the fourth seed and will take on undefeated and top-seeded Central York at 7 p.m. at Susquehannock High School.
It will be the last chance for the Dallastown seniors to capture a Y-A title, something the school hasn’t done since 2014.
Red Lion (9-7, 7-5), meanwhile, is denied a chance to chase the school’s first league crown. Had the Lions won, a win Tuesday against New Oxford would have given them the final Y-A playoff spot.
Lions storm back: Just when it looked like the Wildcats might cruise to a comfortable victory, the Lions did everything they could to erase a big deficit.
Elijah Workinger scored the third of his own five goals in the closing seconds of the third quarter to kick off a long scoring run. Workinger would reach his final total in the fourth quarter during a 5-0 run. The scoring spree culminated with Trevor Rider’s second goal of the game, coming off an assist from Workinger, and made the score 12-11 Wildcats with 4 minutes, 23 seconds left to play.
After a few minutes of trading possessions, Red Lion found itself with the ball and called a timeout with 1:44 to play. Dallastown head coach Joe Slessinger took the break as a chance to not only game plan for what the Lions might do, but to also remind his squad of the gravity of the moment.
“Got to give it all you got,” Slessinger said of his message to the team. “Just get ready and go, all you can do. One forty-four (time left), this is it. Seniors, this is it.”
The Wildcats made it a point to try and slow down Workinger, who eventually got the ball to Zach Mentzer. Dallastown forced Mentzer wide and eventually behind the net before Mentzer’s pass under pressure to the high slot in front of the net sailed high over his Lions’ teammate and a loose ball ensued.
Dallastown defenseman Steve Werner collected his sixth ground ball of the night and raced the ball up the field as time expired, setting off a Wildcats celebration.
Highlight-reel goal: Pickett and Haines each finished off their five-goal efforts by scoring back-to-back goals 20 seconds apart late in the third quarter.
With Pickett in control of the ball behind the Lions’ net, he saw the defense slide across the crease, creating an opening for him to race out in front. Sensing a defensive recovery, Pickett knew he had little time to get off a shot.
The senior, with his has back still turned to the net, bounced a highlight-reel goal between his legs to put the Wildcats ahead 11-6 with 1:29 left in the third and send the Wildcats' fans into a frenzy.
“It just kind of happened, I don’t know,” Pickett said of his saucy score. “I’ve tried it before and it hasn’t gone well. But it worked then.”
Shortly after, Dallastown controlled the draw and with possession, Pickett found a cutting Haines, who rifled off a quick goal with 1:09 remaining to put Dallastown up 12-6.
A tight first quarter saw Ben Hornbeger record two of his three goals for Red Lion, while Pickett had two and Haines had his first for a 3-2 Wildcats lead after the first 12 minutes.
The Wildcats, however, would own most of the second quarter. Haines picked up his second and third goals to help Dallastown on a 4-0 run to open up a 6-2 lead.
Rebounding after ugly loss: After the game, Slessinger was pleased by how his team responded after a 20-8 drubbing at the hands of York Catholic that had put the Wildcats’ playoff hopes in doubt.
“It was a good turnaround. I think we all know what happened there at York Catholic. And I think the guys responded,” Slessinger said. “We had our two best practices of the year Friday, Saturday, and then these guys came out and really stepped up. It was a good team effort, I really liked how they grinded.”
Eastern York 10, New Oxford 9: At New Oxford, Cadyn Michael (three goals, two assists) and Gavin Evans (three goals, assist) powered the Golden Knights to the win.
Dover 12, Red Land 6: At Red Land, Paige Lantz led the Eagles by scoring seven goals. Lantz finished the season with 66 goals, a Dover record. She now has a two-year total of 109 goals as a sophomore. Also for Dover, Annie Long had two goals and one assist, Alex DiGiovanni scored two goals and goalie Shaely Gamble made 11 stops. Gamble has a York-Adams League-high 55.2 save percentage for the season and a career percentage of 56.1, a Dover record.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.