It's usually a tight and physical battle when the West York and Dallastown boys' lacrosse teams square off.
And Thursday, when those two rivals met for an early-season showdown on a cold and blustery afternoon, was no exception.
The Bulldogs raced out to an early 5-1 lead at West York Middle School, but the Wildcats answered with three consecutive tallies to keep things close.
The home team, however, used a 3-1 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters to gain a cushion that Dallastown couldn't break through. Led by a three-goal, two-assist performance by Seth Clauser, West York was able to claim a hard-fought 9-7 victory.
While the Bulldogs prevailed in the end, it wasn't a pretty contest by any stretch of the imagination. Scoring was at a premium, a fact that shouldn't come as a surprise, considering that both clubs have been confined indoors for practices recently.
First-year coach Jim Bates of Dallastown pinned some of the blame on the lack of outside practice time for his club.
"We've only been outside for two (practices)," he said. "Most of the mistakes that I've seen are because we haven't been outside."
West York coach Randy Tamblin pretty much agreed with Bates.
"A lot of it is due to our limited on-field practice," he said. "But that goes for a lot of the schools. We've been stuck in gyms and you're forced to do things out of the box (in games) that you normally would be doing in practice."
The result, while certainly a positive one on the record sheet for Tamblin, was predictably ugly.
"By far that was fundamentally the worst game we've played passing, catching ground balls and clearing," Tamblin said. "We have a lot to clean up."
West York was able to overcome some miscues by virtue of its depth and talent. While Clauser led the way with five points, teammates Nick Wilker (two goals, assist), Hunter Betz (three assists) and Devyn Roehm (two goals) provided enough firepower to hold off the Wildcats.
"We definitely have some guys out there that want to get out there and get things done," Tamblin said. "Every one of them wants the ball and they know that there are five other guys out there to help them."
Things turned dicey after the home team raced ahead early. Midway through the second period, the Wildcats used a quick 3-0 blitz to get within a goal at 5-4. Max Lohss, Bailey Haines (three goals, assist), and Cade Gold (two goals) scored during that run.
"In lacrosse I don't think (four goals) is a huge gap," Bates said. "You can get momentum swings back and forth so I don't think we were in any kind of panic mode at that point."
Clauser notched a tally to end the first half to put the Bulldogs ahead by two (6-4). Dallastown got a goal to start the second half by Haines, but that would be the closest they would get.
Roehm, Clauser and Ian Lichty each scored during the 3-1 run that put the Bulldogs up 9-6 with just about five minutes left.
It was that finish that showed Tamblin that his team has all the makings of a contender.
"Our guys are resilient," Tamblin said. "They're fight you until the end and that's very much like last year's team."
OTHER BOYS' LACROSSE
Red Lion 10, Spring Grove 9: At Red Lion, the Lions outscored the Rockets 8-3 in the second half to get the win. Sam Emig (four goals, one assist), Tanner Reif (two goals, two assists) and Mason Gauntt (two goals, assist) led Red Lion. Dom Francisco had six saves to get the win in goal. The Rockets were paced by Trey Baker (two goals, two assists), Tanner Bolton (two goals, two assists), Ty Sager (three assists), Ian Piety (two goals) and Bryce Kephart (two goals). Adam Grant had 13 saves for Spring Grove.
Central 16, Susquehannock 7: At Susquehannock, Central's Ian Desenberg, Katon Yantek and Max Haldeman combined for 12 goals. Collin George, Nick Tranchitella, Jake Villier and Gavin George also had goals for the Panthers. The winners' Shane Walker and Pearson Hinkle combined for 13 saves.
OTHER GIRLS' LACROSSE
South Western 18, Eastern York 3: At Hanover, Erin Brown and Callie Kavanaugh each had four goals for the Mustangs, while Lauren Schmidt and Taylor Bull added three goals each. Laura Silver had eight saves to get the win in goal. Rylie Toomey had all three Eastern goals.
West York 16, Dallastown 12: At Dallastown, Sara Sweitzer scored five goals, and Kelley Dietz, Amanda Lehman and Ally Williams supplied three goals each for the Bulldogs. Sam Smith led Dallastown with three goals. Jenny Manning, Lindsey Ellis and Olivia Thomas supplied two goals apiece of the Wildcats.
Susquehannock 19, Central 2: At Central, Ashley Valway and Carly VanLuit scored five goals each, and Maddie Ellis provided three goals and assisted on three other goals for Susquehannock. Katelyn Welch added two goals and three assists for the winners. The Warriors' defense shut out Central in the first half.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.