Kennard-Dale beats Susquehannock for District 3 third place to earn PIAA berth
HUMMELSTOWN >> Thursday's District 3 third-place game marked a first for the Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse team and its coaching staff this season. For the first time, the Rams had to recover from a loss, a very disappointing one against Manheim Township in the district semifinal.
Adding to the drama, the Rams played YAIAA rival Susquehannock for a third time in a couple of months, with the final PIAA playoff berth on the line, and with one of the Kennard-Dale players shooting for a national record.
Making matters worse, Susquehannock played keep-away while taking an early lead in the game played at the Lower Dauphin Middle School.
But the Rams' response was emphatic. Once cracking the scoreboard, Kennard-Dale reeled off seven straight goals to open a big lead and went on to post a 15-11 win past the Warriors.
After the Rams improved to 21-1 and secured a spot in the PIAA tournament, coach Kelly Wetzel admitted his apprehension.
"There are times when I get nervous more so than others. I was nervous about Susquehannock," he said. "(Susquehannock coach) Steve (Marshner) is a good coach; he knows us well; his girls play with our girls. It's a very good rivalry, and they are talented."
Sophomore Emmie Dressel scored three times in a five-minute span, and when Morgan Day gave Kennard-Dale a 5-1 lead, it broke the National Federation of State High School Association record for career goals.
The marker, with 14:14 to play in the first half, was No. 460 for her career, and was appropriately assisted by her younger sister, freshman Maddie Day.
"That's a great record for her, for her teammates and the school," Wetzel said. "Kennard-Dale is in the middle of nowhere, so it's a nice honor. I am glad it's done, now I want to add to it. We are going to need her to add to it."
Kennard-Dale moves on to the unenviable task of facing District 1 champion Great Valley on Wednesday, at a time and site to be determined.
Maddie Day's third goal of the game gave the Rams a 7-1 lead and put a second trip to states in three years in the team's sights.
"Going ahead was really a confidence boost at the beginning of the game," Dressel said. "I am so excited. I wanted this since the first day of practice, I was like, 'We are going to states this year, I feel it.'"
Morgan Day scored six goals, finishing the game with 465, and Dressel added five to lead Kennard-Dale's offense.
"It was all them. We haven't called any plays all year. Everything we have done has been freelance, pass, move off the ball and create opportunities," Wetzel said. The Rams "have a habit of finding each other, sometimes too good of a habit. They make passes that aren't there."
Lost in the goal-scoring excitement Thursday was the Rams' defense, which allowed only three goals in the first half. Senior Brooke Davis helped anchor the back, along with freshman goalkeeper Clare Boone, who had eight saves.
The two helped the season continue with an impressive rebound from the 16 goals they gave up Tuesday to the Blue Streaks, who won their seventh straight District 3 title, 21-14, against Hempfield on Thursday.
"It feels awesome. We pushed ourselves this year to get here and hoped we could pull through," Davis said. "I just think we realized (Manheim Township is) a good team, we are a good team, things are going to happen. We have another game. ... We can still get to where we want to be."
Although Susquehannock's season ended with an 18-4 record, the Warriors rallied with a 4-1 run, cutting an 11-3 deficit to 12-7 with 8:52 to play. But Morgan Day and Dressel scored 41 seconds apart to extend the advantage.
Ashley Valway scored five times in her final high school game for Susquehannock. Gena Speights scored her second of the contest on a man-up situation with 2:42 remaining, but the Warriors couldn't convert the rest of the power play.
Susquehannock goals — Ashley Valway 5, Gena Speights 2, Rachel Marshner, Kayla Held, Kate LeBlanc, Maddie Ellis.
Susquehannock assists — K. LeBlanc 2, Held, Ellis, Morgan LeBlanc.
Kennard-Dale goals — Morgan Day 6, Emmie Dressel 5, Maddie Day 3, Hannah Bracey
Kennard-Dale assists — Maddie Day 2, Morgan Day, Renee Gerring, Lyndsey Duty, Bracey, Dressel, Claire Gamache.
Shots on goal — Sus 19, KD 24.
Goalies — Sus, Amber Orner (8 saves). KD, Clare Boone (8 saves)