No matter that it kept raining harder and her ankle kept aching more.

This was a lacrosse day like no other for Kennard-Dale senior Alána Pietra.

So it was at the YAIAA girls' championship Thursday evening at Susquehannock High, that a team full of snipers like the Kennard-Dale Rams would truly lean hardest on their bad-ankle goalie to win yet another title, this one, 11-7.

But there were so many intertwined story lines to yet another matchup between the Rams and the York Catholic Fighting Irish.

Perennially two of the top programs in the league, they already had met five times over the previous two seasons, most every one hard-fought with slim margins.

York Catholic’s Emily Robbins (left) battles for control of the ball with Kennard-Dale’s Taylor Davis (right) during the YAIAA girls’
York Catholic's Emily Robbins (left) battles for control of the ball with Kennard-Dale's Taylor Davis (right) during the YAIAA girls' lacrosse tournament championship game Thursday at Susquehannock. The Rams won, 11-7. (For the Daily Record/Sunday News -- Mike Zortman)

And yet each ending with a Ram victory.

Then consider how Pietra was the York Catholic goalie last year when these same teams met for the title. In the offseason she transferred back to Kennard-Dale, in part, to play with younger sister, Abi.

Even more intrigue?

There also was the ankle Pietra badly sprained a couple of weeks ago -- an injury that was supposed to sideline her for a month.

To make matters worse, senior scorer Haley Romoser had missed even more time with a bad knee, and defender Brooke Davis was out with a concussion.

But all three returned for the championship game, and maybe it made the difference.

After recent one-goal victories, including one over these Irish, Kennard-Dale (19-1) blew this one open early.


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Romoser scored four times, Nicole Black added three goals and Alana Pietra made one huge save after another, 16 in all.

They did it all in a rain that started falling midway through the first half, intensified quickly and continued at a downpour deep into the second half.

Kennard-Dale pressured hard from the beginning and surged ahead, 6-1, before eight minutes had elapsed.

"They've got so many good players that when their other girls stepped up, we couldn't cover everybody," York Catholic coach Rob Linthicum said .

"But that game, to me, really came down to draw controls and Alana."

While the Rams' attack did fizzle a bit in the heavy rain, Catholic simply couldn't seem to break through and close in on Pietra despite repeated opportunities. She made seven saves before halftime and protected a 7-3 lead.

Even when Catholic tried to rally late with three-straight goals, two from Natalie Fiorenza, Pietra came up big again. With the Irish pressing for more, she stoned three-straight attempts in close with about 5:30 remaining.

And that was about it.

"She was huge," Linthicum said. "And the thing is, I have the advantage of knowing her weaknesses, as well as her strengths. We talked about how we wanted to shoot on her and practiced it -- and just didn't get it done."

For Kennard-Dale, the return of three key players couldn't have worked better. Rams' coach Kelly Wetzel admitted his team had been sloppy in recent weeks.

Watching one tense victory after another from the bench was "nerve-wracking," Romoser said. "I wanted to pull my hair out half of the games, but I was so proud of how they finished."

"I'm not sure what would have happened had (Pietra, Romoser and Davis) not been here today," Wetzel added, "but I know we finally started playing the kind of lacrosse we were at the very beginning of the season."

And for that, they earned their third-straight YAIAA championship -- the second-straight over York Catholic (14-4).

This one, made more special, with Pietra guarding their goal.
@YDRPennState; 771-2104
 
YAIAA Tournament Championship
Kennard-Dale 11, York Catholic 7
York Catholic   3  4 -- 7
Kennard-Dale   7  4 -- 11
   First Half -- 1. KD, Nicole Black, 23:29. 2. KD, Black, 21:23 (Taylor Davis). 3. YC, Shannon Moore, 20:44 (Alex China). 4. KD, Haley Romoser, 19:41. 5. KD, Romoser, 18:57 (Morgan Day). 6. KD, Black, 17:53. 7. KD, Day, 17:14. 8. YC, Megan Bittner, 3:40 (Jess Mazzur). 9. KD, Day, 1:36. 10. YC, Sarah Gabriele, 43.3.
   Second Half -- 11. KD, Romoser, 23:53. 12. KD, Romoser, 22:02 (Danielle Markel). 13. KD, Davis, 11:19 (Black). 14. KD, Davis, 10:27. 15. YC, Alex China, 8:05. 16. YC, Natalie Fiorenza, 6:21. 17. YC, Fiorenza, 6:07 (China). 18. YC, Fiorenza, 19.8.
   Shots -- KD, 17.
   Goalies -- YC, Abby Figge (4 saves); KD, Alána Pietra (16 saves).