HAMBURG–As the final horn sounded at Hamburg Area High School on Tuesday night, York Catholic junior Josiah Schendel dropped to his knees and put his head in his shirt.
Fellow junior Chris Sosa fell to his back with his hands over his head.
The Fighting Irish players had just watched their season come to an end with a 2-1 loss to New Hope-Solebury in the PIAA Class A state tournament semifinal. It marked the second straight year York Catholic lost in the state tournament to New Hope-Solebury — the defending PIAA Class AA state champion.
But as the Fighting Irish completed their typical cool-down lap back and forth across the field after the game ended, a large crowd of supporters cheered on, applauding a team that made history this season despite another setback in the state playoffs.
A couple weeks ago, the York-Adams League Division III champion Fighting Irish won the school’s first-ever District 3-A boys’ soccer title, something Sosa won’t soon forget.
“We made history this year. We won districts. It’s something everyone will remember forever … we’ll have that banner in our gym. Just looking back it will be very memorable,” Sosa said. “We always wanted a state title but district champs is a very big accomplishment for us.”
Unfortunately for the Fighting Irish, their offense didn’t come alive until the last moments of the game against the District 1-AA champion. Three of their six shots on goal came in the final four minutes of play. Sosa scored the lone goal for York Catholic (17-5-1) with just more than three minutes to play.
“I think we reacted a little bit too late with urgency to go against them,” Fighting Irish head coach Milner Sosa said. “Still, it was a great year. Now, I just have to go relax.”
For the most part, the game featured solid defense on both ends of the field. Neither team had a shot on goal in the first half.
The first score came with about 29 minutes to play when York Catholic goalkeeper Cameron Waterbury charged out of the net in the hopes of grabbing the ball out of the air. But Waterbury didn’t make it to the ball in time. And as it bounced up in front of him, the Lions’ Jon Berne nailed a header just over the charging Waterbury and the ball rolled into the net to give New Hope-Solebury (12-5-2) a 1-0 lead.
“They came out really strong and very excited and hyped,” Chris Sosa said. “We didn’t come out with the same intensity. In the second half we just picked it up because we wanted to win the game but we just couldn’t finish.”
Berne assisted teammate Patrick Brennan on a goal with about 10 minutes to play that put the Lions up by two scores.
Waterbury finished with two saves in his first start back in goal since the opening-round game of the state tournament, when he left with a concussion.
“It was a successful year for us,” Coach Sosa said. “We have accomplished a lot more than ever in York Catholic history with winning the division, district champs and making it to semifinals of states. It was our goal to continue today, but it’s the end for us for this year. So, we’re going to enjoy our freedom a little bit right now and then get back and get ready for next year.”
— Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or email@example.com.