Right now, there are some growing pains.
Against a veteran-laden Dallastown team which has had their number, however, the Mustangs fell Monday by a 1-0 count at South Western.
With the pre-game focus flipped toward ending a scoring drought (an excruciating 1-0 overtime loss to Cedar Cliff was a tough pill to swallow), the Mustangs wobbled under the weight of defensive pressure.
In a hard-fought, defensive-minded affair, senior goalie Chris Meyer collected a game-high 15 saves. Meyer stabbed the momentum out of numerous Dallastown fastbreaks and halted several one-on-one situations.
He hit the ground and jumped in front of the ball. He protected shots that nailed him right in his midsection. It was a workmanlike showing that backboned the Mustangs' defensive effort.
The Wildcats ripped 13 shots on goal and installed knot-tight defense. They came off the bus ready to fire a shot on goal. Their nose for the net was evident in the first half when they took eight shots on goal. On the afternoon, they outshot the Mustangs (0-3) by a 13-6 margin. The Wildcats had five corner kicks to South Western's four.
Meyer, the elder statesman who solidifies a young Mustang defensive unit, made some eye-popping dives and kept Dallastown from cranking up the score.
"I can't say enough about how far he has come," said South Western coach Clayton Wilcox of his keeper. "You know, he's the reason we're in some of these games. I mean, it is a team effort, obviously, but he had a lot of great saves today. He started for us last year and did a great job. This year, he's even better. Chris just worked his tail off over the summer, had a really great summer, and he's going to be even better this season."
The Wildcats (2-2) dominated possession throughout. During one sequence in the second half, they went roughly three minutes without relinquishing the ball.
While Meyer and the defense thwarted several promising attacks, Dallastown popped the game's lone goal and kept the lockdown operation intact on defense the rest of the way.
Rangy senior forward Ben Johnston dodged through traffic and knocked in a header off a feed from senior midfielder Shane Campbell with 31:28 remaining.
The Wildcats didn't come close to frittering away the 1-0 edge until the fourth quarter. Dallastown broke up a pass that would have led to an open look at 6:59 left to play.
While Meyer may have made some tough hustle plays and stuffed the stat book, the Wildcats were buoyed by strong net sealing as well.
Wildcat senior goalie Ben Weaver (who posted eight saves), he of the prodigious vertical leap, levitated toward the top of the post to bat away a deep rip by Mustang sophomore Quinn Meyer. In the first half, Weaver plucked a direct kick out of the air with 21:25 remaining.
"I actually think we're playing pretty good for how young we are," said Meyer, who earned his first starting nod midway through his sophomore season."We lost I think 11 seniors from last year and about eight nine of them were starters."
With 5:19 remaining, the Mustangs narrowly missed a shot on goal.
Ball distribution and transition attacks were paramount to success for Dallastown, which bounced back following a 3-0 loss to Susquehannock on Saturday.
"The whole game we just kept at it. We kept our eyes on the shutout," explained Weaver, one of the Wildcats' 13 seniors. "At halftime, we told ourselves to not let up. I think we should have been up maybe two or three goals during one sequence in the first half. Their goalie got in front of some shots really well."
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DALLASTOWN 1, SOUTH WESTERN 0
Dallastown -- 1 0 -- 1
South Western -- 0 0 -- 0
First Half -- 1. Dt, Ben Johnston (Shane Campbell), 31:28.
Shots On Goal -- Dt 13, SW 6.
Corners -- Dt 5, SW 4.
Goalies -- Dt, Ben Weaver (8 saves); SW, Chris Meyer (15 saves).
J.V. Score -- Dallastown 1, South Western 0.