HERSHEY - Silver medals have become an all too familiar sight for the Gettysburg boys' soccer team.
For the third straight year, the Warriors reached the District 3 title game. And for the third straight year, they left Hershey without the top prize.
Taking on Lower Dauphin in the Class 3A title game at Hersheypark Stadium on Thursday, Gettysburg played with the Falcons for most of the first half but lost, 3-0. It was the Warriors' first loss since Oct. 3.
Unlike last season when they were undefeated and favored in the title game against Lancaster Mennonite, the Warriors were not expected to beat a Lower Dauphin team that had outscored opponents by a combined score of 17-0 in its first three district games. But despite being the underdog this time, the Warriors were still stung by the loss.
"It stinks," senior forward Matt Yingling said. "Third year in a row for my class, the worst loss of the three games. We definitely took not being the favorite to our advantage as much as we could. Hoped it would be different but proud of the guys."
Gettysburg head coach Scott Hancock admitted the team's district medals from the last two seasons mean very little to him. But while he was disappointed to miss out on gold again, Hancock said he hopes he and the players will look at this medal differently someday.
The Warriors entered this fall with lower expectations after losing several key players from last season's 23-2 team. But Gettysburg remained one of the top teams in the area, winning its second straight league title and making it back to the PIAA playoffs.
Because of those accomplishments, Hancock said this season has still been one to be proud of.
"Our two silver medals from previous years, I don't even know where mine are," Hancock said. "We hate losing and I hated losing today and so did (the players). But I told them, I encouraged them to keep (the medals) because in the future they'll be proud.
"We weren't expected to get this far. We're not settling for second, but (Lower Dauphin) is good."
They weren't flawless, but the Warriors did a good job keeping the Falcons offense in check for most of the first half. Gettysburg kept the game scoreless for the first 32 minutes and went to halftime down one after a goal by Nick Iagnemma with 7:29 to play in the period.
But the Warriors were rarely able to create chances in the second half, and Lower Dauphin capitalized on numerous opportunities with goals by Timmy Townsend and Jackson Becher. Gettysburg was outshot 12 to two and outnumbered three to zero in corner kicks.
"We would have to play an almost flawless game defensively (to beat them)," Hancock said. "I think we're capable of doing that, and all the goals we gave up are fixable mistakes. (Team captain) Drew Wivell came off the field saying, 'We can get better, we can beat them if we play them again.'"
To get another shot at Lower Dauphin, however, Gettysburg would have to advance to the PIAA Class 3A final. The Warriors will begin the state playoffs against District 12 champion Archbishop Wood on Tuesday.
With a long road ahead of them, the Warriors are determined to put their disappointment behind them and get back to winning.
"We have a day to sulk about it and then it's back to work," Yingling said. "The mentality we need is to focus on the bigger picture now."