It wasn't the prettiest win, but at this time of year with a trip to districts within reach, Red Lion field hockey will take all the wins it can get.
Jayla Godfrey celebrated her senior night Thursday with a goal and an assist, and the Lions' defense clamped down on New Oxford's potent offense long enough to hold on for a 2-1 win.
Gill Orwig scored the game-winning goal for Red Lion less than three minutes into the second half. Godfrey split the defense and found Orwig all alone on the left wing. When New Oxford's goalkeeper came out to attempt kicking Orwig's shot away, she whiffed, and the ball trickled into the cage.
"I think we played with a lot more energy than we had been," Red Lion head coach Carol Gillmen said. "We've talked about being dynamic and moving the ball better. When we do that, good things happen. And the defense played absolutely amazing."
Neither team provided much offense for the first 15 minutes until New Oxford scored on its lone shot of the first half. Junior Breanne Sauter scored after a penalty corner resulted in a scramble in front of the cage.
Seven minutes later, senior Jayla Godfrey answered for the Lions, who didn't record a shot for the first 20 minutes, when she collected a rebound off the goalies' pad and buried a shot from close range.
"We've been looking for Jayla, but other teams have marked her more so she has struggled at times," Gillmen said of her senior. "So to see her have a goal and an assist, I was very proud of her."
After giving up four goals in a loss to the Colonials earlier this season, Red Lion made a point of defending the ball better. The Lions' midfield and backline held New Oxford to four shots on goal and frustrated the Colonials' frontline by not allowing a clean look at the cage all night. The defense held off a late New Oxford flurry. Two back-to-back, contested New Oxford shots went just wide of the cage midway through the second half as Red Lion clung to a one-goal lead.
"They have a great forward line," Gillmen said of New Oxford. "We were determined that after giving up four goals to them last time, we would play with more fire and emotion."
Then, the defense was put to the test again when New Oxford had two penalty corners in the final 45 seconds but Red Lion didn't allow a shot on either play.
"We've been playing well but haven't been able to finish," Gillmen said. "So I was proud of our team for putting it all together."
The result will help Red Lion hang on to a district playoff spot. Despite the loss, New Oxford will finish tied for second in Division I with Central York, but will make the playoffs over the Panthers based on the teams' records against the top team, Dallastown. The Colonials are slated to play Bermudian Springs in the YAIAA semifinals next week.
Red Lion 2, New Oxford 1
New Oxford10—1Red Lion11—2
First half — 1. NO, Breanne Sauter (Kaelyn Long), 12:24. 2. RL, Jayla Godfrey, 5:02.
Second half — 3. RL, Gill Orwig (Godfrey), 27:18.
Shots on goal — NO 4, RL 6
Corners — NO 9, RL 5
Goalies — NO, Sydney Leete (4 saves), RL, Jena Everett (3 saves)