Central York soccer's Rachel Wilhelm discusses scoring the lone goal in the team's 1-0 win over York Catholic in the YAIAA semifinals on a penalty kick. Matt Allibone
Rachel Wilhelm couldn't help but feel nervous.
It was just about a minute into the second half of Tuesday's YAIAA girls' soccer tournament semifinal matchup between Central York and York Catholic, and the Panthers' senior found herself facing a penalty kick in a scoreless game.
For a team that has played a defense-first, low-scoring style all season, there was plenty of pressure to convert the kick.
"I scored on a PK against Spring Grove earlier this season, we haven't had a lot of PK's taken so we just went with what worked before," Wilhelm said. "We just hoped to push through and get a win somehow."
Wilhelm would take advantage of the opportunity, booting the attempt past goalie Amelia Strayer on the play that ultimately lifted the Panthers past York Catholic, 1-0, at Northeastern High School. Central York advances to play Fairfield in the league final at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Red Lion.
With Central having won three 1-0 games in the past two weeks, Panthers head coach Eric Webb felt confident as his team spent nearly the entire second half protecting its slim lead.
"I don't know about especially confident, but I felt at that point of the game we deserved a goal and deserved to be up," Webb said. "We don't score a lot of goals, so 1-0 is normal for us. It wasn't going to be a high-scoring game."
The Irish threatened a few times in the second half, but only managed to get three shots on net. Strayer kept the Irish in the game by making 10 saves.
Central now faces an extremely tough challenge in Fairfield, a team that has scored 14 combined goals in its first two tournament games. Webb said he hopes the Panthers defensive approach will help them against the Knights.
"We're going to be on our heels, they have some really talented players who could beat us off the dribble," Webb said. "But we don't give up much and they score a lot so it might be a good matchup of contrasting styles."
Fairfield 5, Dallastown 1
The explosiveness and efficiency of Fairfield's offensive attack was on display in the Green Knights' 5-1 victory over Dallastown in a YAIAA tournament semifinal at Alumni Field in York Springs, and as a result Fairfield will play in the championship match of the tournament for the first time.
Playing in the a league semifinal for the first time, the Green Knights scored on five of their seven shots on goal.
"It's a little surprising that we scored five goals tonight, given how good they are defensively," Fairfield head coach Phomma Phanhthy said. "We have a very good offense and I thought that we could score three, maybe four goals. But I didn't expect us to get as many as we did."
With the match even at halftime, 1-1, the Knights (18-0) took the lead when freshman Annabel Anderson blasted a shot in from 10 yards out off an assist from Hannah Logue with 29:17 left, then that combo reversed roles less than three minutes later as Anderson setup Logue's header to bump the lead to 3-1.
"We came out with more intensity in the second half and tried to take it to them," Anderson said.
The two-goal deficit forced Dallastown (12-8) head coach Scott Austin to change his team's formation, going with less defenders and pushing forward more attackers.
The YAIAA Division III champs took advantage by scoring two more times.
"I really don't feel that the final score was indicative of how the match went," Austin said. "Those last two goals are on me. We had to try to push forward more and that left us vulnerable. Fairfield has a lot of talented scorers, and they made us pay."
Knight keeper Ashley Roser and Fairfield's back line stood strong keeping the match even until Anderson's marker.
"I'm extremely proud of our girls tonight," Phanhthy said. "Dallastown put a lot of pressure on us, but we stood strong."