Central York boys' lacrosse takes down Susquehannock in heavyweight battle

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

GLEN ROCK — To some, it was the Game of the Year. But to the players of the Susquehannock and Central York boys’ lacrosse teams, it was just another big game between budding rivals.

With no league title on the line quite yet, the unbeaten Warriors hosted the Panthers Tuesday evening in a contest that nevertheless had significant implications on the York-Adams League regular-season race.

Needing a victory to have any chance of securing at least a share of the Y-A title, the Panthers played a smart, defense game that seemed to frustrate the high-scoring hosts. After falling behind 4-3 in the third-quarter, the Panthers shutout the Susky boys over the final 22 minutes of action.

Led by a three-goal night from Dayton Bagwell — including two of Central’s three tallies in the fourth — the Panthers broke Susquehannock’s 29-game York-Adams regular season winning streak with a 7-4 triumph.

Central York against Hempfield during their lacrosse game in Springettsbury on Wednesday March 22, 2023.

“I knew it was going to be low-scoring,” Central York coach Ryan Muller said. “I told the defense our goal was six, so I was pretty spot-on with that.”

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The Panthers, who improved to 11-2 overall and 9-1 in the league, have played their share of close games already this season. They dropped consecutive 7-6 heartbreakers against Hempfield and Dallastown to begin the season before coming out on the positive end of a 7-6 battle over Lampeter-Strasburg and adding a 10-7 victory over Archbishop Curley from Maryland this past weekend.

“We always want to play good teams, like we did at the beginning of the season and again this past weekend,” Muller said. “We came out here and were able to execute, but there are still some things we can do better, but we’re playing better and better lacrosse every game.”

Bagwell, one of the leaders on the squad, showed his heart and determination with back-to-back goals that came just 26 seconds apart in the fourth quarter, breaking a 4-4 deadlock with under nine minutes left in regulation.

“We just wanted to get one or two more on the board,” Bagwell said, “and then keep the ball on our side, because they can’t score if they don’t have the ball.”

When the Warriors (11-1, 9-1) did have the ball, they were often stymied by the Central York defense. Panthers goalie Luke McGlaughlin made 10 saves, including six in the second half. Susquehannock coach Tom Mayne, however, felt like his team didn’t exactly make life difficult enough on McGlaughlin throughout the contest.

Central York against Hempfield during their lacrosse game in Springettsbury on Wednesday March 22, 2023.

“Their guy did fine,” Mayne said, ”but I don’t know how many times we shot the ball, but it was nowhere near where we should be shooting the ball in a game like this. They outshot us probably 2-to-1 and that’s not going to win games.”

The Warriors were held to just one goal over the first 21 minutes of action until a two-goal spurt by Ben Oestrike (two goals) and Doug Reinecke late in the second quarter drew the home team even. Owen McFadden opened the second half with a goal at the 10:03 mark to put Susquehannock ahead for the first and only time in the contest.

Mitchel Myers drew the Central boys even with 3:10 left in the third before Bagwell’s blitz gave the visitors the cushion they needed.

“We’ve been through that a lot this year,” Bagwell said of playing in tight battles. “We’ve held the ball on our side of the ball several times this year, so we were prepared for that. The hard stuff was in the beginning so we can have stuff like this.”

Susquehannock's Brad Bennett (9) against Southwestern during their boys lacrosse game in Hanover on Thursday, Apr. 6, 2023.

With Tuesday’s outcome, the Warriors and Panthers now sit one game behind league-leading Dallastown, which improved to 10-0 with an easy victory over Spring Grove earlier in the day. If things were to stay that way at the end of the season, these two teams will face one another again in the league playoffs.

That’s something that Bagwell and his mates are not just hoping for, but also expecting.

“We will (see them again),” Bagwell said. “You can pretty much say that we will.”

One bright spot for the Warriors was the play of goalie Nick Blucher, who came up with 14 big saves in the setback.

Susquehannock will host Dallastown in another marquee matchup on Thursday evening. Central York is slated to host West York.