York, PA - Beating any team in any sport three times in one season can be tough. Just ask Kennard-Dale, which trailed York Catholic by three goals in the second half of Saturday's YAIAA girls' lacrosse championship game.
The Rams had already beaten the Fighting Irish twice this season, and York Catholic looked ready to exact revenge for 33 minutes of the title tilt played at Susquehannock.
However Kennard-Dale wasn't ready to relinquish its domination of the YAIAA, no matter how many times the Rams beat the Irish this year.
Katie Fonte scored her fifth goal of the game with 4:18 to play off one of many passes from Nicole Black. This one ended up being the winning goal for Kennard-Dale in its 11-10 championship victory.
Rams coach Kelly Wetzel said beating a team three times in a season became the rallying cry for his team, which won its second straight YAIAA tournament title.
"We were a little upset with the coverage saying the third time is a charm ... We thought, we have already won twice ... That was one of our axes to grind," the coach said after his team improved to 18-1.
Fonte's thoughts were simple when her team trailed 10-7.
"(It took) hard work. We never gave up. We just needed to score," she said.
Score the Rams did, but it took an extreme defensive effort to slow down York Catholic, which used its speed to build several leads.
Lindsay Ingram's fourth goal, which came six minutes into the second half, gave the Irish a two-goal lead. The advantage increased to 10-7 when Sarah Gabriele scored 1:40 later.
However, that was the last of York Catholic's scoring, as Kennard-Dale smothered the Irish playmakers, cutting off passing lanes and pressuring the ball carriers.
"That is what we are capable of. We have a tremendous defense, we really do," Wetzel said. "Sometimes it's a matter of 'we can't forget this little thing and put it all together.' We didn't say anything, we just kept encouraging them to play the way they know how to. They did, and that allowed the offense to do a lot of things."
Only 52 seconds after Gabriele scored, Lyndsey Duty cut inside and bounced a shot past Irish goalkeeper Alàna Pietra.
Three minutes later, Fonte scored off a free-position shot, and less than four minutes after that, Black's perfect pass hit a cutting Fonte, who tied the score at 10 with 9:39 remaining.
Black and Fonte combined for 13 points, with Black handing out five assists, to go with her two goals.
"I definitely feel confident with the ball," Black said. "We have a lot of plays set up for me to assist everyone. But I feel like Katie cuts to the goal the fastest, and that is why we work really well together. I wasn't just looking for her; pretty much everyone else in attack midfield I have a lot of confidence in. I don't look for Katie, but she is always there."
"They do a great job, but we have to get more people involved so teams can't key on anybody, and that's a work in progress," Wetzel said. "We need to make sure we are balanced offensively. Today people who needed to stepped up did some great things. We need more people to have opportunities."
Freshman Shannon Moore's second goal gave York Catholic a 5-3 lead, and 49 seconds later Lindsay Givens increased the margin.
After the Rams called timeout, Black and Fonte scored to cut the gap to 6-5. However, Gabriele made it a two-goal game just 17 seconds later.
Black brought the Rams within 7-6 with 1:36 left in the first half. Sophomore Abby Pietra put a shot off a free position past her older sister, tying the score at seven.
Of course, it was Alàna Pietra who helped the Irish hold the lead for as long as they did. The junior goalie made four straight key saves as Kennard-Dale took control. She finished with 12 saves.
Rams keeper Alley Storke made six saves, including the last two Irish shots.
Kennard-Dale enters the upcoming District 3 tournament as the No. 2 and will host Wyomissing at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Fourth-seeded York Catholic (15-3) will play against Susquehannock at York Suburban with 7 p.m. start Tuesday.
KENNARD-DALE 11, YORK CATHOLIC 10
Kennard-Dale -- 7 4 -- 11
York Catholic -- 8 2 -- 10
First Half -- 1. YC, Lindsay Ingram, 22:55. 2. KD, Lyndsey Duty (Nicole Black), 20:38. 3. YC, Shannon Moore, 19:46. 4. YC, Meaghan Bilyeu, 19:02. 5. YC, Ingram, 18:02. 6. KD, Taylor Davis (Katie Fonte), 15:35. 7. KD, Fonte (Black), 14:15. 8. YC, Moore, 13:37. 9. Lindsay Givens, 12:48. 10. KD, Black, 12:12. 11. KD, Fonte (Black), 7:25. 12. YC, Sarah Gabriele (Dana Amalfitano), 7:08. 13. KD, Black, 1:36. 14. KD, Abby Pietra, 1:18. 15. YC, Ingram, :29.
Second Half -- 16. YC, Ingram, 19:10. 17. YC, Gabriele (Ingram), 17:30. 18. KD, Duty, 16:38. 19. KD, Fonte, 13:34. 20. KD, Fonte (Black), 9:39. 21. KD, Fonte (Black), 4:18.
Shots On Goal -- YC 16, KD 23
Goalies -- YC, Alàna Pietra (12 saves); KD, Alley Storke (6 saves)