Kennard-Dale boys, Dallastown girls celebrate returns to York-Adams soccer finals
The York-Adams League soccer playoffs present most teams with exactly what they crave: new competition. That was certainly the case Thursday evening, as a pair of Division I vs. Division II clashes took place at York Catholic High School.
After the grind of a regular season in which teams saw other divisional opponents twice, the league semifinals presented a good bit of intrigue. First up was a clash of contenders in the boys’ soccer ranks — Dallastown and Kennard-Dale. The nightcap featured a battle between Dallastown's girls and West York.
Hopefully, Thursday’s taste was sufficient for the K-D boys and Dallastown girls. After pulling out victories — the Rams scored a 1-0 win over the Wildcats in overtime while the Dallastown girls claimed a 3-0 triumph over the Bulldogs — Saturday’s league finals will be anything but new.
The Division II champions from Kennard-Dale will see rival York Suburban for a third time this season at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Northeastern High School, while the Division I champion Wildcats will similarly have to do battle with rival South Western in clash No. 3.
Boys: Kennard-Dale 1, Dallastown 0
The opener at York Catholic featured a pair of talented teams that had trouble finding the net. Neither side was able to score through the first 80 minutes of action, forcing the contest into. But with time winding down towards six minutes left in the first extra session, the Rams (16-1-1) were finally able to break through as senior Zach Orwig got his foot on a deflection off a corner kick, driving the ball into the back of the net for the thrilling game-winner.
“Jason (Blough) played a great ball in and I think it hit off of Micah (Smith) and I just saw it right there and hit it,” Orwig said. “I was ready for it to come to me if it did, and it did so I just finished it.”
Orwig’s tally ended an epic clash that seemed destined for penalty kicks. Both sides had their fair share of chances in regulation and overtime, but each and every time, those shots either sailed wide, missed high or were snuffed out by the goalies.
One of just five seniors on the Rams roster, Orwig wanted no part in a second overtime. To be the one to prevent that while sending his team to the finals with a chance for the program’s first-ever York-Adams title could be summed up in one word for Orwig — satisfying.
“Yeah, it felt great,” Orwig said. “It felt SO good.”
The fact that Orwig was at the right place at the right time was anything but a surprise to Rams coach Matt Logue.
“He’s been huge for us all year,” Logue said. “He leads our team in scoring this year and he’s a great kid.”
Getting to the final was only part of the equation for a Kennard-Dale side that won its first Division II title since 2004 this season. Winning the league championship is the ultimate goal, and Orwig and his teammates will get their chance to accomplish that goal Saturday.
“This is our first time getting this far,” Logue said. “A lot of them have been playing together in travel (soccer) for a long time. We knew had something special with this group of kids that we had this year. They’re a special group of kids and they don’t quit. They’ve come a long way.”
Getting this far and falling short would be bitterly disappointing, but Logue has confidence. The Rams beat York Suburban (14-3-1) both times during the regular season, and while beating a good team three times is very tough, Logue and the Rams know they can do it.
“The guys came into the season with three goals — to win the division, make districts and win counties,” Logue said. “Now we’re just one win away from getting there.”
Girls: Dallastown 3, West York 0
The nightcap of the boys/girls doubleheader had the feel of the first match early, as neither side could find the net through the first 39 minutes of play. That all changed when Annabelle Wunderlich was awarded a penalty kick with 7.6 seconds left in the first half.
Wunderlich blasted her PK past the West York goalie to break the deadlock, giving the Wildcats (16-3-1) energy and momentum heading into the second half.
“Yeah, just scoring that I felt just gave us a bunch more energy,” Wunderlich said. “We were in their half a good bit, but we just couldn’t really find it, but I felt that once I scored we just kind of picked it all back up.”
The Wildcats scored again early in the second half on a tally by Maggie Groh before Kiara McNealy made it 3-0 midway through the second half to finish the scoring.
“(Annabelle’s) goal definitely helped with our energy,” Groh said. “But we want it so bad. We’ve been doing this for a few years now and could never seem to make it past this point.”
Despite claiming Division I crowns this year as well as in 2021 and 2016, the Wildcats' last York-Adams title was back in 2015. It’s hard to forget that, as Dallastown coach Scott Austin continues to wear his team jacket commemorating that squad like he did Thursday.
Archrival Central has won the last four titles — there were no league playoffs in 2020 due to the pandemic — since the Wildcats last hoisted the league trophy.
The good news for the Wildcats is that the Panthers' reign was ended by South Western in the other semifinal. The bad news is that beating the Mustangs (17-2-1) for a third time will be anything but easy. The Wildcats, who are 16-1-1 over their last 18 games, defeated South Western, who are unbeaten over their last nine games, by identical 1-0 margins in both regular-season clashes, with the first victory coming in overtime.
“We definitely can’t go into it thinking it’s going to be an easy game,” Groh said. “We need to keep it going.”