BY JEFF FALK
DALLASTOWN – Sometimes it’s hard to learn the lesson when you’re focused on the result. It’s also difficult to understand the lesson when you’ve done your very best.
Some lessons are only learned through time.
On a cool Tuesday night at Dallastown High School, in a semifinal of the District Three Class AAAA postseason, the Palmyra boys’ soccer team played the very best it could, but came away with only a 2-1 overtime loss to the hometown Wildcats to show for it. After the Cougars had taken a 1-0 lead late in the first half, unbeaten Dallastown tied the game in the middle of the second half, then won it on Gabe Wunderlich’s golden goal, 5:21 into the initial extra session.
The result was especially tough for Palmyra to swallow, given how hard it competed and how well it played. It was fast-paced scholastic soccer played at a high level, with emotions, physicality and skill on both sides.
But thanks to Wunderlich’s strong left-footed finish, it was the fourth-seeded Cougars who fell to 17-2-2 on the year. Palmyra’s next action will come in next week’s opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs, as either the third or fourth seed from District Three.
Dallastown, the top seed, is now 23-0 overall. The Wildcats will play for the District Three Class AAAA championship on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium.
“It was a tough loss,” said Palmyra’s classy head coach, Jerry Hoffsmith. “But growth doesn’t come without setbacks. They (his players) played their hearts out.”
“Some of them are taking it pretty hard,” continued Hoffsmith. “As adults, we learn about setbacks. We find valuable lessons in them. Not everything in life is going to go your way. It stings like crazy. But the question becomes: ‘What do you take away from it?'”
Following a momentous struggle during regulation, Dallastown scored on the only shot of overtime.
The winning play originated from Wildcat Kyle Reuter on the right side of the field. He slid a ball through the Cougar box to Wunderlich, stationed at the left side of the net, and he wasted little time finishing.
“The ball was played out wide,” said Hoffsmith, “and they just put it in the back of the net. It was a golden goal.
“We expected this kind of game for sure,” Hoffsmith continued. “We knew they had quality players all over the field. But we knew we could play with them, and we did.”
The Cougars had taken a 1-0 advantage 2:15 before the intermission, on a good set up from Alec Haldeman and an even better finish by Mackie Fairs.
From a hard angle on the right side of the field, Haldeman sent a 30-yard restart to the left post. Fairs found himself unmarked and headed the service into the far side of the Wildcat goal.
“We started out a little slow,” said Hoffsmith. “We got into the game, and in the remainder we played extremely well.
“I don’t think we changed anything after the goal,” added Hoffsmith. “They (his players) continued to play hard. There were no let downs the whole time.”
Palmyra enjoyed its 1-0 edge until 15:51 of the second half remained.
That’s when Dallastown’s Matteo Congliaro closed on the Cougar goal from the right side of the field, then crossed a pass to teammate Zander Leik. Leik stretched out his left foot and directed the ball past Palmyra netminder Jordan Smith.
“They’re a good team,” said Hoffsmith of the Wildcats. “They’ve got quality players. They know how to draw fouls extremely well. But we’ve got to put the ball in the back of the net. The kids played awesome. They played hard.
“That team is ranked first in the state,” Hoffsmith added. “We showed we can play at that level. Another opportunity and the game could’ve been completely opposite.”
In the final tally, Dallastown outshot Palmyra 10-4. The Wildcats took four corner kicks compared to the Cougars’ two.
“Where we’ve really improved is we started to play 80 minutes,” said Hoffsmith. “This was clearly 80 minutes, and overtime. That was a great plus for us. They’ve (his players) shown they can play a full game. But there’s a great amount of disappointment.
“It starts again next Tuesday (in the PIAA postseason),” concluded Hoffsmith. “It’s a whole new tournament. You win four games, you win it. Been there, done that.”
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|2019-09-05||H||vs||Mechanicsburg Area Senior(3)||W||4-0|
|2019-09-24||H||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||W||6-1|
|2019-09-28||A||vs||Mechanicsburg Area Senior(3)||W||2-1|
|2019-09-30||A||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||W||3-0|
|9||J P McCaskey||16-||2-||0||0.703771||0.923077||0.435731||19.2||127.8||1.6||165.5|
|22||Central Dauphin East||6-||12-||0||0.530714||0.430233||0.653525||7.4||211.4||9.8||112.1|
|30||York Country Day School||2-||8-||2||0.333711||0.190476||0.508776||2.4||110.2||10.2||106.4|