YORK - A sleepy- and sloppy - start by Greenwood had the Perry County crowd angry at its own team as the first half of the Wildcats' District 3 Class A semifinal game ticked away with nothing to show on the scoreboard.
Josh Ferguson broke the stalemate late in the opening half, and played helper on a necessary second goal after the break as Greenwood outlasted Lancaster Country Day, 4-1, at York Suburban's Dick May Field Thursday.
The Wildcats will play Biglerville, a 3-0 winner over Trinity, in the district championship at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium
It was hard to believe that Greenwood had beaten this team twice in the regular season, by a combined 10-1 score no less. The Cougars had speed, and the ability to get in front of Greenwood passes, frustrating any efforts the Wildcats had at moving the ball toward the goal.
Although the 'Cats weren't doing it well, they were at least getting toward the end of the field, and were controlling the flow of play - well, mostly. When Greenwood drove, Lancaster Country Day tended to pack the box, which helped immensely as the Wildcats drew nine corner kicks in the first half alone.
Ferguson, Greenwood's big gun, was not a factor for most of the half, while Lancaster speedsters Sulama Traore and Matthew Weinstock-Collins helped the Cougars at least to the front of the goal, but produced only two fruitless shots before the break.
IF YOU GO
Greenwood plays Biglerville Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium
"I thought they marked both our forwards really tight - but they're seeing us for the third time," Greenwood coach Tom Magill said. "They actually had two guys on (Jarrett) Fortenbaugh, because when he would check to the ball he would have a guy with him and then a guy right behind."
Ferguson, on the other hand, came up big with just four minutes to play in the first, turning an Alex Potter throw into the first goal of the game.
Midway through the half, the long game of kickball turned back into a soccer match, and Greenwood suddenly made plays. Fortenbaugh could have scored on a breakaway in the 16th minute, but was caught offside. Garrett Byers was in position after a throw-in, but Cougar keeper Ethan Jenkins went low and stopped it. Fortenbaugh had another chance in front that he couldn't settle - but at least the chances were plural.
"We needed to do a bit of a job of getting him behind those guys, playing the ball backwards and then playing the ball across," Magill said of Fortenbaugh's play. "That ultimately is what kind of opened it up for that last goal."
But that goal was still a long way off, and the Cougars weren't rolling over. They came up dry on their first real chance in the opening half, when Traore had a clean shot with Ryan Kerstetter too far out - but went wide.
Greenwood had more of a presence in the second, corralling the ball in the box and delivering opportunities.
The second goal was a great show of what the Wildcat forwards to could do, as Ferguson crossed and Fortenbaugh delivered. It went through the hands of the Lancaster goalie, and suddenly Greenwood was alive and kicking - literally.
But 23 minutes passed between goals; the next one was for the Cougars on a communication breakdown in the Greenwood back.
"Until they scored the goal, it was kind of like a slap in the face, and then we got things to roll for us," Magill said.
That goal was followed by a huge breakaway by the Cougars' Darin Ngau, which almost got through Ryan Kerstetter, who earned his keep with that stop.
"Ryan kept us in the ballgame. He didn't have to make many saves, but he had to make one quality one when it was still 2-1," Magill noted. "That's kind of what it takes."
The third goal probably put the nail in the coffin, another Ferguson effort with a header to make it 3-1. Then with eight minutes to play Hunter Wirth, who assisted on Ferguson's second, delivered the ball to Tyler Fegley, who turned back into the goal, effectively ending the contest.