Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse chasing history
Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse wanted to win its playoff game so the father of senior Calie Swegon had a chance to see the team's next game. Swegon's father has been battling cancer.
There never was a Plan B.
Kennard-Dale developed “Plan A” before the season started.
The players talked about it. The coaches confirmed it.
Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse wanted more out of this season than any team in the school’s history. The team wanted to win a state championship.
“I’m so excited, it’s like a dream come true, honestly,” Kennard-Dale’s Morgan Bowings said about reaching the state final.
Plan A was hatched because the time was right. Even if it meant making history, becoming the first District 3 team and the first York County team to finally break through and reach the state final.
“We knew back in December the way the brackets were,” Kennard-Dale head coach Kelly Wetzel said. “We knew the talent we had coming back.”
Kennard-Dale will play District 1 power Radnor in the PIAA Class 2A championship at 10 a.m. Saturday at West Chester East High School’s Harold Zimmerman Stadium.
It marks the first time a girls’ lacrosse team outside of lacrosse-rich District 1 (Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties) has reached a state final.
For instance, state final foe Radnor is in its fifth state final and gunning for its third state championship in girls’ lacrosse. (District 12’s Archbishop Carroll also broke through this season and will play in the 3A state final later in the day Saturday.)
“I can’t believe we made it,” Kennard-Dale senior Emmie Dressel said following the state semifinal.
Even after a disappointing loss in the District 3 championship game, when a three-goal, second-half lead drifted away against neighboring school Susquehannock, Kennard-Dale didn’t waver. Plan A was still the only plan.
“They were flat actually the day before the district final and during the final,” Wetzel said. “Susquehannock outplayed us, that’s a flat-out fact."
In the state semifinal, however, Kennard-Dale played “how they are capable of playing.”
“The little things we needed to do, we did,” Wetzel said.
Kennard-Dale tweaked the way it took draw controls, alternating between Brine National High School Lacrosse All-American sophomore Megan Halczuk and Bowings, a junior. While Halczuk has dominated for Kennard-Dale in draw controls on the season, the move appeared to pay off in the state semifinal. Kennard-Dale won the possession game.
And its defense thrived.
The most dominating team in York County since the arrival of lacrosse as a PIAA sanctioned sport, Kennard-Dale will rely heavily on a senior class, which includes 10 players on the roster.
Not one of the Rams’ top goal scorers this season, Claire Gamache moved to defense and has been an anchor. She helped a unit that held Susquehannock scoreless for more than 16 minutes in the state semifinal during Kennard-Dale’s 8-0 run in the first half.
Able to run in transition, taking her team from being on the defensive to starting the attack, Gamache is just one of her team’s many weapons.
But underclassmen have also played pivotal roles.
Freshman goalie Maria Schneider has been impressive, even after taking over for one of the region’s best goalkeepers. Two-year starter Clare Boone transferred to St. Paul’s School for Girls in Baltimore before the season started, leaving a huge void on the team.
“I’ve met Clare several times, and she is just very, very sweet, so it’s a legacy I want to live up to,” Schneider said during the YAIAA tournament.
“It’s just been learning,” she said about her first varsity season. “Every practice I feel like we’re moving toward our ultimate goal of winning a state championship.”
Kennard-Dale vs. Radnor
What: PIAA Class 2A championship
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: West Chester East High School
KD fun fact: Rams are first team outside District 1 to reach girls’ lacrosse state final.
Radnor fun fact: Radnor won the first two girls’ lacrosse state titles in Pennsylvania (2009, 2010), and it is back in the state final for the fifth time.
Did you know? Notre Dame recruit and Radnor standout Nicole Massimino is the granddaughter of former Villanova men's basketball coach Rollie Massimino.