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Kennard-Dale girls keep 'underdog' mentality in hopes of reaching 3rd straight state final

JACOB CALVIN MEYER
717-505-5406/@jcalvinmeyer
Megan Halczuk, left, Lily Dressel, Maria Schneider and Mackenzie Young are all returning to the field for the Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse team, Sunday, March 10, 2018.
John A. Pavoncello photo
  • The Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse team is eyeing a third straight PIAA 2-A final.
  • The Rams are also hoping to win their fifth straight York-Adams tournament title.
  • The Rams are led by seniors Megan Halczuk, Mackenzie Young and Lily Dressel.

The Kennard-Dale girls’ lacrosse team hasn’t been able to practice outside yet.

Even when the weather gets warm, like it will this week, the Rams will probably still be stuck indoors.

The snow and cold weather pushed all spring sports teams inside last week, but this week, teams with artificial turf surfaces are eager to get outside for practice.

Without any artificial turf playing surfaces on campus, however, the Rams will have to wait for the field to dry and hope the weather cooperates.

The lack of an artificial turf field is part of the "underdog" mentality that helps fuel the Kennard-Dale athletics programs. It's why the girls’ lacrosse team will return from its scrimmage Tuesday at Hempfield with a ziplock bag of turf pellets.

“We have turf pellets from every field we’ve ever played on,” said head coach Kelly Wetzel at York-Adams winter sports media day on Sunday. “It is a rallying cry for us. Look at everything that’s against us, but we still do very well.”

The pellets represent what the Rams don’t have — a turf field. But taking them is also a representation of what the Rams don’t require — the need to be like the other schools to beat the other schools.

“I feel like it makes us the underdog in a way,” said Megan Halczuk, the team’s top offensive threat. “That gives us the motivation to beat bigger schools or schools with turf fields that have advantages over us.”

Kennard-Dale's Megan Halczuk, left, works to get the ball past Manheim Township's Abby Laubach during girls' lacrosse action at Kennard-Dale High School in Fawn Grove, Wednesday, May 2, 2018. Manheim Township would win the game 16-6. Dawn J. Sagert photo
Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse team head coach Kelly Wetzel is hoping for another outstanding season after making it to the PIAA championship last year. Sunday, March 10, 2018.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Set up for success: The Rams have advanced to two straight Class 2-A state finals and have been the top team in the York-Adams League, winning the last four league tournament crowns. They are looking to replace four seniors from last year’s team, including starters Eden Sterner, Madeline Day and Morgan Bowings.

“We were very young last year, and we made it further than I thought we would,” said Wetzel, who took over the program in 2006. “I thought this year would be one of those years we would be very successful.”

Waiting for basketball players: Along with practicing inside, the Rams are without two of their best players — Megan Halczuk and Lily Dressel — as the K-D girls’ basketball team continues its state playoff run. The hoops’ team plays in the second round on Wednesday.

“I want them to go far,” Wetzel said. “This is a ride that very few people get to embrace and enjoy. As much as I want them on the field, I’ll get them when I get them.”

Kennard-Dale's Mackenzie Young, left, advances the ball while Villa Maria Academy's Lizzy Walheim defends during PIAA Class 2-A girls' lacrosse championship action at West Chester East High School in West Chester, Saturday, June 9, 2018. Villa Maria Academy would win the game 17-5. Dawn J. Sagert photo

UMBC duo: Two of K-D’s top offensive threats, Halczuk and Mackenzie Young, are both committed to play NCAA Division I lacrosse after they graduate this spring. 

“I think finally finding her place for college has given her a drive,” Wetzel said of Young.

Young said having her college choice over with has made her feel more relaxed about the upcoming season.

“It’s helpful to know where we’re going,” said Young, who ranked in the top five in assists in the league last season. “Last year, I was still in the recruiting process, so it’s something I had to worry about, like if any coaches came to a game. Now I feel more comfortable. Those nerves aren’t with me anymore.”

Kennard-Dale goalie Maria Schneider makes a save on a Susquehannock shot on goal during the PIAA Class 2-A girls' lacrosse semifinal, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

Strong defense: The Rams’ defense is led by junior goalie Maria Schneider and Dressel, a senior defender. Wetzel said Schneider, who was a defender growing up, became a goalie her freshman year and has started in goal since.

“She’s gone above and beyond anything we expected from her,” Wetzel said. “She’s getting better and more vocal as a leader.”

Schneider said having reliable defenders such as Dressel, who missed her sophomore season because of a torn ACL but returned last year as a starter, is crucial for a goalie.

“Having good chemistry plays a big part in those extra things when it’s more instinctual,” Schneider said.

Kennard-Dale's Lily Dresses makes a face while taking about returning to the field last year after an ACL injury, Sunday, March 10, 2018.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Extra motivation: Young said the blowout loss to Villa Maria in the 2018 state final has given the squad extra motivation this season.

“We’re going to work hard, because we’re not going to get blown out by these teams,” Young said. “We are going to step up and compete with them. We have the talent and drive to do it.”

“The third time’s a charm,” said Dressel. “This will be our third time going to states. This will be the time we win it. Don’t count us out.”

Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at jmeyer@yorkdispatch.com.