In a way, it seems fitting. In order to continue its season, the Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse team will need to beat a team that has given it fits the last two seasons.
The two teams will play Saturday at a site and time to be determined in the second round of the District 3 playoffs. Kennard-Dale secured a date with its tormentor via a 22-10 win against Spring Grove on Tuesday. The Comets bounced Wilson (West Lawn), 15-5, on Tuesday.
Last year, Penn Manor ousted Kennard-Dale, 17-7, in the district semifinals. When the two teams played about a month ago, the Comets routed the Rams, 22-10.
So even though third-seeded Kennard-Dale (16-2) is the higher seed (Penn Manor is No. 6), you can guess who the oddsmakers would favor in this matchup. Penn Manor (15-3) has the track record in this matchup, along with the experience of having played in the much tougher Lancaster-Lebanon league.
But not so fast. Rams coach Kelly Wetzel was quick to point out Tuesday that his team trailed 11-8 at halftime against the Comets this year -- in no way an insurmountable deficit. Kennard-Dale was also weighed down that day by the absence of goal-scoring threat Katie Fonte and the second-half ejection of Lauren Laubach for two yellow-card offenses.
"We can play with them, but they have to be prepared for them and they have to believe in it," Wetzel said. "Last year, I don't think they knew what to expect."
Wetzel said his team needs to control its faceoffs against Penn Manor, something it struggled with during one stretch in the second half Tuesday.
A win would go a long way toward further cementing Kennard-Dale's credibility in District 3. The Rams are already universally considered the class of York County -- they haven't lost to YAIAA opposition in four years, back when they were still a club team.
"I think we understand what's out there," Wetzel said. "We realize there's more lacrosse outside York, and it's good."
Speaking of good, the senior Laubach had seven goals and five assists Tuesday -- another stellar outing for the Rams offensive leader. Laubach, who will play at Slippery Rock next year, even assumed a motivational role in the second half, delivering something of a pep talk to her teammates during one timeout.
"Passion," Wetzel said when asked to describe his senior. "Lauren hates to lose.
"That passion really transcends everything she does. She has tremendous knowledge, and she wants to give as much to them as possible."
Susquehannock knocked out
It was a tough day for YAIAA lacrosse teams, and especially for Susquehannock. The Warriors, who went undefeated in YAIAA play this year and earned the district's top seed, lost their playoff opener to the No. 16 seed Elizabethtown, 6-5. The five-goal output was stunning from a Susquehannock team that had lit up the scoreboard all season.
In other boys' lacrosse action, York Suburban and Dallastown also lost their respective district playoff fixtures on Tuesday, while Red Lion shut down Cumberland Valley in a 12-4 win. On the girls' side, Dallastown and South Western saw their seasons end in blowout fashion.