HERSHEY - With the scoreboard at Hershey High School reading 0:00 behind him, York Catholic girls' lacrosse head coach Rob Linthicum huddled his team together and delivered one key message.
“You just made history,” he said.
He repeated himself to emphasize where this year’s team stood in York Catholic lacrosse lore.
“You just … made … history.”
No York Catholic lacrosse team has ever accomplished what the Irish did on Thursday with a 13-10 win against Hempfield, pushing them into the district semifinals.
“This is the sixth or seventh straight year we’ve made districts and we’ve always gotten knocked out in the second round,” Linthicum said. “With the exception of Kennard-Dale one year, it’s always been AAA or AAAA schools (in the semifinals). It’s frustrating making it to the second round and getting knocked out by these huge schools. So it’s big knowing how big they (Hempfield) are and how tough they are (for us to win).”
Anna Linthicum scored twice in first two minutes, Lisa Casagrande added three first-half goals and it seemed early on that the top-ranked Irish would cruise past the Black Knights. But after York Catholic took a 7-1 lead, Hempfield started battling back.
“We gave up more goals than we’re accustomed to but these are the best teams at this point,” Linthicum said. “I think the biggest key for us early was getting that big lead. I still don’t know why we tried to give it away.”
The Knights drew within two, 12-10, with less than three minutes left, but the Irish forced a key turnover in their own zone and Amanda Tufano sealed the 13-10 win with a goal in final seconds.
“I think we got a little ahead of ourselves,” senior Maura Palandro said. “I don’t want to say we underestimated them, but the mindset changed because we were up. So we definitely kind of let up on the gas, but we were able to come back from that.”
A lot will be on the line when York Catholic returns to Hershey on Tuesday to take on No. 5 Exeter Township. A win would clinch the program’s first trip to states and a spot in the district finals, where they would have a chance to bring home the first district title for a York County girls’ lacrosse team.
“It definitely has sunk in,” Palandro said of the team reaching new heights. “It’s been weird. I guess lacrosse is still keeping me in it because my last day was on Tuesday so it helps me feel like I’m not graduating yet. I like it, it feels good.”