Rams ambush Irish, take home YAIAA title
It was a stunning development and it came at a pretty bad time.
The undefeated and District 3 top-ranked York Catholic girls' lacrosse team had not yielded more than nine goals in a game this season thanks to the top-ranked defense in the YAIAA.
When the top-seeded Irish and No. 2-seed Kennard-Dale reached halftime of Thursday afternoon's YAIAA playoff championship game, the Rams had already put up 10 goals on the Central York High School scoreboard.
York Catholic fought back in the second half, but Kennard-Dale emerged with its seventh playoff crown in eight seasons with a 16-11 win. York Catholic's 2014 championship is the only break in Kennard-Dale's run.
"They wanted it," said Kennard-Dale coach Kelly Wetzel. "It's that simple. Nothing more. It's a great bunch of girls. We were picked for third in the preseason and we've used that as motivation all year. We're not third. That's been our cheer. Not third. We're not third. We don't play like a third-place team."
Kennard-Dale (18-1) dropped a 9-8 overtime game to York Catholic at home on April 26 for its only loss of the season. The Rams came out against the Irish in the title game and quickly bolted to a three-goal lead as Maddie Day, Hannah Bracey and Emmie Dressel each scored in the first 6:32 of play.
"I think everybody's mental game was really on and we were all focused," Day said. "The fact that we had lost before (to York Catholic) really pushed us. Definitely."
The sophomore Day scored four of her five goals in the first half while Dressel netted three first-half scores and added two in the second 25-minute half.
"I think we were really mentally strong for this one," Dressel said. "Looking at social media, it was like a lot of people didn't believe in us. I think that bothered us and drove us to play amazing in this game. We were really hyped up for this one."
While the Rams offense was piling up goals, Kennard-Dale sophomore goalie Clare Boone and the defense were doing their part. Boone stopped several point-blank shots throughout the game and wound up with a game-high 11 saves.
"Clare saves us when we do a lot of stupid stuff," Wetzel said. "She is a brilliant goalkeeper and our defense played fairly well early on, limiting their opportunities. She's already committed to Yale. She is just as brilliant in the classroom."
The Rams led York Catholic by a 10-3 score at the half and were up by 11 goals in the second half before the Irish finally mounted a rally. York Catholic outscored Kennard-Dale by an 8-2 margin in the final 18:05 of the game, but it was too little, too late.
"Good teams can make other good teams look bad at times and that's what (Kennard-Dale) did," said York Catholic coach Rob Linthicum. "They wanted revenge from the regular season and just outplayed us. They just flat outplayed us all over the field. If there is a positive, we did outscore them down the stretch."
Lindsey China scored five goals in the final 15:41 for York Catholic (16-1) while Anna Linthicum added three goals for the Irish.