When a young Matt Zimmerman made his coaching debut on the Dallastown sidelines in 1999, he had "no bloody clue what he was doing," he said. Nine seasons later, he is celebrating his 100th career win.
"I always had great assistants and players willing to work hard, which made the wins come faster than the coaching job did," Zimmerman joked. "The learning curve was definitely steep over the years."
Zimmerman is in his ninth season overall and second at the helm for Dallastown boys' soccer. The Red Lion native also coached Dallastown's girls from 1999-2003, and spent three seasons as the Red Lion girls' soccer head coach.
Before the season, Zimmerman was going through team records and tallied up the wins. He realized he was close to 100, but he didn't tell his team until after they had reached the milestone with a 2-0 win over Red Land Sept. 28.
Looking back, there are a few of the 100 wins that stand out, Zimmerman said, including picking up the first-ever district playoff win for Dallastown girls' soccer in 2002. Zimmerman and the Wildcats added two division titles in girls' soccer, and tying Dallastown while leading the Red Lion girls' team was a big deal too, he added.
But the more rewarding part of coaching young soccer players was the relationships he built with other coaches and athletes over the years.
"It's not necessarily the wins I remember," Zimmerman said. "I'm still good friends with my ex-players through social media, and I got to go to a former players' wedding over the summer. That's the rewarding part."
On the other end of the spectrum, the most challenging part of coaching, Zimmerman said, is dealing with your own expectations and those of the players.
"Sometimes the penguin really wants to fly, but the penguin is not going to fly," he joked of expectations. "We're never as bad or as good as we think we are, but we're always trying to get better."
In his time, the league's landscape has changed quite a bit, but two things remain constant: the Red Lion-Dallastown rivalry, which Zimmerman has been on both sides of, and Central York's perennial success.
"I've been on both sides of the Dallastown-Red Lion rivalry and it doesn't matter what the record is because it's like playing your brothers or sisters," Zimmerman said. "And Central has really stepped up their game in the last decade with Frank (Lenno). That's the team we're always trying to beat and compare ourselves to."
Zimmerman's Wildcats, who haven't given up a goal in the last six games, will potentially have a chance to tie Central for the division title when they square off Oct. 13 at Dallastown.
CLINCHING SCENARIOS >> The league playoffs are rapidly approaching and each of the three divisions have funneled into two-team races.
In Division I, the Panthers lead with 27 points at 9-0, followed by the Wildcats at 7-2. With a win against New Oxford Thursday, Central would clinch at least a share of the division crown. If Dallastown loses Thursday, then Central would have the outright title with two wins.
In Division II, Gettysburg can clinch at least a share of the title with a win against Susquehannock Thursday. And in Division III, Biglerville and Bermudian Springs, who are tied at 8-1 and split the season series, could finish the season in a tie.
NEW OXFORD, SOUTH WESTERN TEAMS ON THE RISE >> Led by Division I all-star Marcos Garcia, the Colonials have improved from four wins in 2013, to seven wins in 2014, and already have eight wins this season.
South Western struggled through a tough 2-15-1 in 2014, but have already secured seven wins this season, thanks in large part to a several key plays from Jacob Wells and strong play from goalkeeper Matt Maher.