Central York boys' soccer headed to its first District 3 final
The Central York boys' soccer team was well aware of the fact that the team has never been to a District 3 Class AAA championship game.
Pierrce Miller knew it, and after a lackluster first half against Hershey in Tuesday's semifinal at Northeastern, the junior did something about it.
Miller corralled a pass from Igor Gomes, drove deep to the left side of the field and rocketed a tough-angle shot into the far corner of the cage with 30:25 to play.
It was the Panthers first shot on goal of the game, and their most important as Central went on to a 2-1 victory.
"Igor passed it to me. The defender pushed me towards the left and that is my strong side," Miller said.
The fourth-seeded Panthers improved to 22-2 on the season and will face No. 3-seeded Lower Dauphin in a 7:30 p.m. championship Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.
Ironically it was Lower Dauphin that got past Central last season in the district semifinals, on penalty kicks. The Falcons (20-1-1) earned their way to the title tilt the same way, knocking off Cumberland Valley after a scoreless draw by winning, 5-3, on penalty kicks.
After a first half spent almost entirely in the midfield, Miller's goal sparked both teams, as played moved from end to end with more regularity.
"We knew we didn't start the game well. We didn't keep possession," Miller said.
"We were a little tense to start the game," said Panthers' coach Frank Lenno. "(Hershey) is a good team. They can defend. I was not worried. I have a lot of seniors that we rely on. They understand it is going to take 80-plus every game."
Miller has blossomed into a big-game player, including in last Saturday's district contest when he notched both of Central's goals in a 2-1 overtime win against Conestoga Valley.
"Pierrce, the last two games, has been phenomenal," Lenno said. "We've been working with him and he's been confident. He understands that every time he touches the ball he has a chance to score."
Hershey keeper Alex Morgret dove to knock Gomes' shot over the end line. However on the ensuing corner Gomes scored on a loose ball from in close, putting Central up 2-0, with 10:59 left to play.
Nearly four minutes later the Trojans cut the lead in half, although the goal went off a Central player for an own goal. But the Panthers clamped down and kept Hershey (15-6-1) at bay, assuring themselves of no worse than a second-place finish, which is huge for the upcoming PIAA playoffs.
"We came in fourth at districts the last two years. You come in fourth, you go to Philly," Lenno said.
Hershey, the 17th seed, entered Tuesday after winning a pigtail game past Warwick in overtime, before dispatching top-seeded Central Dauphin in penalties in the opening round. The Trojans shut out No. 8 Chambersburg on Saturday, earning their trip to Northeastern.
The game started 50 minutes late after the opening contest, a Class A semifinal between Lancaster Country Day and Camp Hill went through two overtimes and needed penalty kicks before Camp Hill advanced.
Central York 2, Hershey1
Second half — 1. CY, Pierce Miller (Igor Gomes), 30:25. 2. CY, Gomes (Miller), 10:59. 3. H, Own goal, 6:59.
Shots on goal — H 2, CY 4.
Corners — H 3, CY 5.
Goalkeepers — H, Alex Morgret (3 saves), CY, Trevor Holderegger (1 save).