HERSHEY — Sometime midway through the season, both Camp Hill's boys and girls soccer teams looked promising.
The boys were a known commodity, the reigning state champs. The girls needed some time, especially after a rough start to the season and a coaching change, but during the District 3 playoffs they showed a spark. Even still, the girls didn't roll through the season the way the boys did, even falling in the District 3 Class 1A championship to Fairfield.
Could anyone have predicted Saturday's outcome at the beginning of the season? They'd be lying if they did.
The boys team were favorites to return to states and defend the coveted state crown. The girls, well, let's just say it was a rocky start.
That, however, changed as the team pulled together to make it to the PIAA Class 1A final at Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday with their male counterparts. The buzz around both teams was electric.
"It’s just crazy to think about because we are representing one school and making our community proud," girls junior Sheridan Reid said.
She spoke a few hours after her squad lost against WPIAL's Shady Side Acadamy, who shut the Lions out in a 4-0 showdown. The girls lined up to accept their medals, some looked down at the silver around their necks and showed a variety of emotions. Some were excited about the achievement and some were disappointed — upset that all of the hard work the team put in during the season, especially during a glorious postseason run, ended short of the ultimate prize.
What the Lions did was rare. Only five times in PIAA soccer history has the same school's boys and girls squads made the state championship in the same year. Of the previous four, only two ever went 1-1 — in 1996 Quaker Valley boys won while the girls lost, and in 2015 Central Bucks East's boys won while the girls lost. The previous two times the same school made it? Peters Twp. lost both title games in 2008 and Archbishop Wood went 0-2 in 2010.
No school has gone 2-0 in state soccer championships.
Despite the tears on a dreary, rain-soaked day at Hershey, there's something else that's being shared between both the boys and girls teams: pride.
"I’m really proud of both the teams making it to the state finals," Reid said.
Lions live in prides for a reason: to work together for a common goal support each other. In successes and failures.
"It's amazing, both Camp Hill teams making it to the finals," boys junior Dylan Mayanja said. "They hadn't made it until this season, so it's amazing. I'm speechless."
"To see the girls and the run that they made, it's incredible," boys head coach Justin Sheaffer said. "The nice thing with them is they're young, they have a bright future. Obviously our hearts go out to the seniors, your heart goes out to them because it sucks losing."
For the boys, Mayanja played hero for the team, notching a penalty kick goal and the overtime winner against Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in 3-2 thriller.
Something else to be proud of.
"[The guys] have a lot to be proud of," he said. "There's only one team that gets to finish the year with a win. I hope they enjoy it because it's not easy. They made it look easy at times this year and it is not easy and today that showed."
The praise from the community after the game also came in boatloads on social media platforms.
State silver medalists! Not our day, but great run ladies! Thanks for a memorable post-season pic.twitter.com/djuOHbiLcq— Mark Clarke (@Camphillhoops) November 18, 2017
Unbelievable finish to an unbelievable season...proud of these guys...thanks to everyone for the support throughout the season...— Justin Sheaffer (@coach_sheaffer) November 18, 2017
Lastly, hearts go out to our girls team...lots to be proud of and build on...CH girls soccer has a bright future— Justin Sheaffer (@coach_sheaffer) November 18, 2017
The teams went 1-1 in Saturday's championships. It wasn't perfection. Only one team tasted gold (and a hefty chocolate bar).
But there's a reason it should be enjoyed that goes beyond wins and losses.
They did it together.