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With special teams thriving, Central York boys' lacrosse wins 12th straight

The Panthers beat State College, 10-4, on Saturday afternoon to reach 12-2 on the season.

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

EMIGSVILLE — If you ask any knowledgeable fan of York-Adams League boys’ lacrosse about the Central York program, two things typically come up — a strong attack and outstanding faceoff specialists.

While those are deservedly the hallmark of the Panthers organization, another key to the team’s success over the years has been solid goaltending.

Making saves isn’t easy, and it isn’t quite as sexy as scoring goals, but it is nevertheless a facet of the game that can change outcomes. So it should come to little surprise that Central's rebound from an 0-2 start has come from a resurgent attack, relentless victories on draws and, just as importantly, solid if not spectacular play in goal.

Saturday’s non-league showdown with State College was a perfect demonstration of that. The Panthers broke open a 3-2 contest at the half, outscoring the Lions by a 7-2 clip to earn a big 10-4 victory.

Central York's Luke McGlaughlin defends against Susquehannock during boys' lacrosse action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, April 26, 2022. Susquehannock would win the game 10-9 in overtime. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“They’re a very good team,” Panthers coach Ryan Muller said of State College, which entered the day ranked No. 4 in the District 3 Class 3A power ratings. “They have a very good goalie.”

So, too, do the Panthers, who extended their winning streak to 12 with the victory. Central goalie Luke McGlaughlin wasn’t overly tested, but he still made five saves in the triumph.

“I think we just kind of flipped the switch,” McGlaughlin said of the second half. “We’re playing great as a team right now, and we’re headed toward the playoffs.”

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After struggling in the first half, the Panthers got momentum on their side after the break. The hosts won 8 of 10 draws in the second half, which allowed the Panthers to control the play over the final 24 minutes.

“We just came out and executed a little better,” Muller said. “Just execution and winning more of the 50-50 balls, and we really were smarter with our shots in the second half.”

Brian McGarvey, Central's FOGO (face off, get off) specialist, not only did his job on draws Saturday, but he even scored a goal as well. That drew cheers and a round of high-fives from his teammates.

“When (McGarvey) can score a goal like that,” Muller said, “it just gives us an extra jolt of energy."

The play in goal over the years for a slew of successful CY squads has often been overlooked, but Muller articulated just what it means to have a solid goalie like McGlaughlin in front of the cage.

Central York's Luke McGlaughlin (3) in goal against Penn Manor in the Class 3-A boys lacrosse quarterfinal in Springettsbury on Friday, May 20, 2022.

“It’s great to have a rock back there,” Muller said. “When you have someone like Luke back there, you just have to force outside shots. We have Brian and Lukey in the cage … our special teams unit is probably the best around. The two of them change the game. They get us the ball and make saves and get the ball out and they do really well on clearing.”

With a rich history of attackers over the past decade, it might not come as a shock that McGlaughlin converted to goalie after playing attack.

“He showed up four years ago playing attack, and now we have a stud goalie out of it,” Muller said with a grin. “To be honest, every goalie that we’ve had since I’ve been here has been a convert from attack. He’s best friends with a lot of the guys on the team and they just kind of threw at him in the backyard and said, ‘Lukey, you’re the goalie now,’ and the next thing we know, he’s a goalie.”

Facing outstanding attackers certainly has helped McGlaughlin hone his craft between the pipes over the years.

“They win most of them,” McGlaughlin said of his showdowns with teammates over the years. “A lot of times they win, but I hold my own.”

Dayton Bagwell and Mitchel Myers each finished with a hat trick in the victory for the Panthers (12-2 overall), while Macon Myers netted two of his own.

Central has two contests left on its slate against York Catholic and York Suburban before the York-Adams League playoffs next month. The Panthers (10-1 in the league) trail first-place Dallastown (11-0) but are a game ahead of Susquehannock (9-2). South Western (8-3) currently occupies the fourth and final county playoff spot, followed by a pair of 7-4 teams in Red Lion and New Oxford as well as a 6-4 York Catholic squad.