If the Dallastown boys' soccer team that took the field at the start of the season seemed somewhat unfamiliar to the average fan, there was a good reason.
The Wildcats graduated 13 players from last season's 17-4-1 squad and had to replace the entire defense and the majority of the midfield. And after a somewhat average start to the 2015 campaign, the young Wildcats are starting to click.
Dallastown picked up its fifth-straight win Saturday afternoon, shutting out New Oxford, 2-0, at home. The Wildcats haven't surrendered a goal since Sept. 22.
"We're definitely a young team," Dallastown head coach Matt Zimmerman said. "I had a whole new defense and whole new spine. We were replacing everybody, but we have some good, smart players, and it just took a while to understand our roles."
Kyle Schimmel's role is to spark the offense, and he did just that on this gusty, wet Saturday afternoon. With less than a minute left in the first half, the Wildcats (10-3-1, 5-2 YAIAA Division I) usurped the momentum when Schimmel crossed a ball into the box, and Cade Curran was there ready to put it past freshman goalkeeper Sebastian Cervantes.
"To play a good 39 minutes in the first half and let a goal go in with less than a minute left kind of took everything we had," New Oxford head coach Andrew Dellinger said. "We tried to come out in the second half firing. We hit the post a few times, and a matter of inches is the difference in this game."
The Colonials (7-4-1, 3-4-1) had two shots bounce off the post, and they missed a golden opportunity with an open net midway through the first half. Dallastown's Drake Pew came out of the net, and Peter Foerster won a one-on-one battle but the ball slipped away on the wet turf. By the time he regained control, Foerster missed the open net from a tough angle.
Pew, who was making his first start in net for Dallastown, made eight saves.
"New Oxford is a good team," Zimmerman added. "Luckily we were able to do some things against Marcos (Garcia) to make sure he wouldn't have many free shots."
The Wildcats added an insurance goal midway through the second half when Jake Winemiller headed in a corner kick from Nate Swartz.
"We're playing really, really well right now," Zimmerman said. "It has been a total team effort. I couldn't ask any more of these guys. They've been doing it in all facets of the game lately, which makes me very happy."
While the Wildcats have been on a roll, they still trail the defending league champs, Central York, in Division I. The two teams will square off Oct. 13 in Dallastown.
"We're in good shape, and we're in the same position we were in last year, but we still have Central," Zimmerman said with a laugh. "And I love Frank (Lenno) to death, but man, I'd like to beat them just once."
Dallastown 2, New Oxford 0
First half — 1. Dt, Cade Curran (Kyle Schimmel), :55.
Second half — 2. Dt, Jake Winemiller (Nate Swartz), 16:02.
Shots on goal — NO 8, DT 7; Corners — NO 3, DT 4; Goalies — NO, Sebastian Cervantes (5 saves), DT, Drake Pew (8 saves).