Faced with the prospect of Tuesday’s match against Susquehannock slipping away in the second half, Central York boys’ soccer coach Frank Lenno leaned on the intuition of one of his players.
Mired in a scoreless contest, and with the Warriors controlling much of the action, Panthers senior Zak Kakos made a request of his coach.
Normally a player in the backfield, Kakos kept seeing a familiar glitch in his opposition’s defense. It was one that he knew he could exploit if he were moved to striker.
“All season I had seen Pierrce (Miller) get to the baseline, put a ball across to the top of the box where no one has been standing,” Kakos said. “And I knew that if I was just put at striker, and I made that run, that Pierrce would put it there and I could just use my left foot, opposite corner, and that’s exactly what happened. I’ve seen it so many times, I just knew that was going to happen. I just had to finish it off. (Pierce) did all the hard work.”
Kakos was given the opportunity and his premonition came to fruition. He scored the lone goal in Central’s 1-0 victory, which moves that Panthers into Thursday’s York-Adams League championship game. Central will take on Gettysburg in a rematch of last season’s title match at 7:30 p.m. at Red Lion High School. Defending champion Gettysburg won the other boys' semifinal over Dallastown on Tuesday, 2-0.
Kakos’ goal with 11 minutes, 47 seconds left to play shifted momentum away from a Warriors side that came out of halftime and tilted the pitch in its favor.
“We weren’t very clean all game, we couldn’t connect passes and we couldn’t combine very well. It was just a bit off,” Lenno said. “They had the ball a bit more than we wanted, and when you do that you put the pressure on yourself.”
The Panthers finished with an 11-7 advantage in shots on goal, while the Warriors earned more corner kicks at 3-2. Two of those corners came during a stretch that saw Susquehannock register four of its seven shots and earn some of its best chances of the evening.
Junior goalie Cameron Stoll made seven saves in net for Central, many coming during that opening 10-minute stretch of the second half that nearly saw the Warriors take control of the match.
“He’s been great,” Lenno said of Stoll. “He’s progressed throughout the year, he’s been unbelievable. He’s getting stronger on the ball, his hands are real strong, he’s real physical in there and he does a great job for us.”
Aaron Bilbie made 10 saves for Susquehannock.
Central York girls also advance: For Central York girls’ soccer senior defender Rachel Wilhelm, success hasn’t come without some nerves.
That’s because with Tuesday’s 1-0 victory against York Catholic, the Panthers have now collected nine of their victories this season via the shutout.
The win also places the Panthers in Thursday’s York-Adams League title match against Fairfield. The Green Knights were 5-1 victors against Dallastown in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
“It makes us very nervous, we never know what’s going to come out of these (tight games)," Wilhelm said. "But we just hope to push through and get a win somehow. And that’s what we did tonight.”
Wilhelm collected the game’s only goal at 39:03 mark of the second half when she beat sprawling Irish keeper Amelia Strayer to the lower right corner of the net on a penalty kick.
Thursday’s title tilt with Fairfield presents the classic clash of styles. Central York, a defensive stalwart, will be tasked with trying to slow the Green Knights’ potent offense.
“I’m confident that they’re going to pitch a shutout every night,” Central coach Eric Webb said of his defense before turning his attention to Thursday’s match-up. “It’s going to be tough, we are going to be on our heels. They’ve got some talented players that can beat us off the dribble. We don’t give up much and they score a lot, so it might be a good match-up, a contrast of styles. Hopefully they’ll have to defend us at times in the game, too.”
Rachel Szczypinski made three saves in goal to preserve the victory for Central. Strayer had 10 saves for the Irish.
Central York finished with a 4-0 margin in corners.
The title contest is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Red Lion.
Gettysburg 2, Dallastown 0: At York Springs, Matt Yingling and Drew Wivell each scored goals to help Gettysburg earn a berth in Thursday's York-Adams title match. Fernando Carrillo added an assist for the Warriors. Gettysburg is the defending tournament champion and will face Central York in a rematch of last year's championship contest.
Eastern York 4, Lancaster Catholic 0: At Wrightsville, Evan Springer led the Golden Knights to the non-league victory by scoring two first-half goals. Also for Eastern, Josh Smith and Brahk Morrison each scored one goal, while Dalton Leik picked up one assist.
Fairfield 5, Dallastown 1: At York Springs, Fairfield pulled away from a 1-1 halftime tie to punch its ticket to the York-Adams title game. Annabel Anderson and Nora Clarke each had two goals for Fairfield, while Hannah Logue added one. Skyler Wilt scored for Dallastown off an assist from Ashley Robinson. Fairfield will face Central York for the York-Adams title on Thursday night. Fairfield is attempting to become the first-ever Division III team to win the league tournament crown.
Reach Elijah Armold at email@example.com.