Central York claims YAIAA boys' lacrosse title
Last year, York Catholic had Central York's number on the boys' lacrosse field.
The Irish beat the Panthers three times in 2016: Once during the regular season, once in the YAIAA tournament and once again in the District 3 tournament.
The Panthers didn't forget, however, and made sure to return the favor Friday night in the YAIAA championship game.
Capturing early momentum, the Panthers never let off the gas pedal and rolled to a 16-8 victory over the Irish at Central York High School.
What was expected to be a back-and-forth showdown between the top two teams in league ended up being a one-sided affair from start to finish.
"They were just in our heads. It was simple as that," said Central York head coach Tom Mayne. "We were a talented team last year, too. But mentally we weren't prepared. This year, the mindset going into it was, set the goal. We have to play like a championship team, we have to have a championship mentality with everything we do. Every day when we show up in practice. Every day when we take the field against another team."
Said Panthers' senior attackman TJ Ross: "We were having a good season. And they killed us three times. That was our big talk in the locker room. We wanted them. We wanted revenge. It was sweet to do it."
York Catholic won the game's opening draw and trimmed about two minutes off the clock before Chandler Hake scored the contest's first goal.
But after that it was all Central. The Panthers closed the quarter by ripping off six straight goals. Ross and Ryan Kilgour — who was quickly knocked out of the game following a big hit in the first period — each recorded two goals during the run.
Kollin Vaught then opened the second quarter by winning the faceoff, going downfield and immediately firing one home.
Up 10-4 at intermission, Central followed up with goals from Ryan Fahs and TJ Ross to take further control.
Ross finished the night with five goals and two assists. Connor Hoch scored four goals, while Kilgour and Drake Little each finished with two. Ryan Fahs, Kade Bricker and Vaught finished with a goal apiece for the Panthers.
Mayne spoke glowingly of his team's chemistry and deep talent throughout its roster. He said Central York had two seniors who took the field regularly this season — Ross and Zac Miklitsch. The core of Panthers' juniors have been playing together since youth ball, while Mayne added that a talented group of sophomores have "been together forever."
"They know each other, they trust each other, and they're playing together," Mayne said.
The Panthers finished the YAIAA regular season with a 13-0 record and then handled Dallastown 17-3 to open tournament play. Following Friday's title game, players and fans were jubilant despite a heavy rainfall, and congregated underneath the bleachers and in the locker room to celebrate their championship. It was a family atmosphere.
School was out of session Friday, yet the Panthers gathered for a team breakfast at 10 a.m. at the school, and Mayne said he was happy with his players' focus leading up to the game.
"I just love our team. Everyone just competes," Ross said
"Our parents are close. We're a really close unit."
Ross credited Vaught's prowess on faceoffs and the defense of Chris Brandstedter on York Catholic standout Eli Doyle (three goals) as keys to Friday's win.
One thing was also abundantly clear: On this evening, the Panthers didn't have to look far for motivation.
"Everybody was thinking about that 0-3 that we went against them," Vaught said. "That was in the back our head. We just took it out on them tonight."