The Central York girls soccer team discusses winning the YAIAA title this season against Fairfield. Christian Arnold
It was a contrast of styles on Thursday evening at Red Lion High School in the YAIAA girls' soccer tournament championship game.
Fairfield, the offensive powerhouse, who came into Thursday's game unbeaten vs. Central York, a team that relied on its defense and knack for coming out on top in one-goal games.
As the game went deeper in the second half still scoreless, it seemed to be setting up a finish that Central has grown quite familiar with this season.
Sure enough, with 14:47 to play, Chloe Carns found the back of the net for Central and the Panthers defense, continued to shut down the potent Knights attack from there. When the final buzzer sounded, the Panthers won 1-0, claiming their second YAIAA title in three years.
"Our motivation and our drive to just keep going and fighting, I think that's what changed a lot and that's why we are here," Panthers goalie Rachel Szczypinski said.
Szczypinski was alluding to the fact that just about three weeks ago, the Panthers (11-9-1), were a few games under .500 and a chance at the county title seemed far off.
"Six of the eight (losses at the time) were in overtime or with less than two minutes to go in the game," Panthers head coach Eric Webb said. "We didn't feel like the record at the time was indicative of who we were. The difference between then and now is that we found a way to win those close games."
These 1-0 games are becoming a staple of the Central team, which had won 10 of its 11 games by that tally this season.
"Two goals would be nice," Webb joked. "We're comfortable playing organized in the back. The girls play hard and we have some depth and we can wear teams out."
After a scoreless first half in which the teams played quite even, the offenses stayed quiet for the better part of the second half as well thanks to some great defense by both clubs.
Szczypinski finished with seven saves for Central and Ashley Roser stopped nine for Fairfield, who was playing in the finals for the first time in program history.
"Fairfield is good," Webb said. "I hope they win the district championship and the state tournament. They have some really special players."
As does Central. Carns, only a freshman, overcame getting hit by the ball on her right eye in the first half to score the game winner in the second half.
"We were just working together and trying to keep possession and we just got down there and put one in," Carns said.
Megan York was credited with the assist on the goal for Central.
The Panthers and Green Knights will each play in the District 3 tournament next week.
YAIAA girls' soccer tournament champions
2016: Central York
2014: Central York
2012 (fall): Dover
2012 (spring): Dallastown
2008: Spring Grove
2006: Red Lion
2003: Spring Grove
2002: Spring Grove
2001: Central York