For an athlete, tasting defeat can often be the best motivator.
Especially bitter defeat.
Ever since the York College women’s lacrosse team lost a double-overtime heart-breaker to rival Salisbury two weeks ago, the Spartans have had their sights set on a rematch.
After Tuesday’s thrilling 12-11 victory over Mary Washington in the Capital Athletic Conference semifinals, the York women got their wish.
Led by big nights from Meghan Fox (four goals, one assist), Celly Arthur (two goals, two assists), Regan Cook (three goals) and Caitlin Rankin (two goals), the Spartans punched their ticket to the CAC finals against Salisbury after a nail-biting victory over the visiting Eagles.
York will hit the road to face the top seed from Salisbury Saturday at a time yet to be determined.
“It was a really awesome win,” junior captain Hailey McCormick said. “I think that (10-9) loss (to Salisbury) is something that really lit a fire under all of us. We are just hungry to win the championship.”
Tuesday’s triumph marked the second victory over Mary Washington since that setback against the Sea Gulls. Just like the 10-7 victory 10 days ago, the Spartans had to overcome a late rally.
Leading 8-4 with just more than 20 minutes left, the hosts saw the Eagles cut the deficit to 8-7 in just over seven minutes. After staking out a 12-8 lead with more than five minutes remaining, the visitors rallied to draw within 12-11 with 75 seconds left.
“It’s like I told the team in the huddle afterwards,” York coach Jen Muston said. “These games are going to be really close and you just have to try to stay one step ahead.”
The Spartans were able to salt away the one-goal triumph by winning the final face-off. Despite intense pressure from the Mary Washington players, the York women were able to maintain possession until the final buzzer to hang on for the victory.
“It doesn’t matter if you win by six or two or 10,” Muston said. “You just have to win by one and we did.”
Now the Spartans can set their sights on a Sea Gull team that the York women felt they should have defeated two weeks ago. The Spartans held a two-goal lead late only to see Salisbury even up the score with under two minutes to go. Salisbury then won in OT.
“We’ve worked hard all season,” McCormick said. “And we’ve had our ups and downs, but I think right now we’re on an upward climb.”
York, ranked No. 8 nationally in NCAA Division III, improved to 14-5, while No. 9 Mary Washington dropped to 15-4.
No. 6 Salisbury (16-2) punched its ticket to the finals with a 22-11 pounding of Christopher Newport in the other CAC semifinal.
Spartans fall in baseball: The York College baseball team dropped a 9-8 decision to Susquehanna on Tuesday in nonconference action in Selinsgrove.
York dropped to 25-13 overall, while Susquehanna improved to 17-15.
The Spartans led 8-0 after 2 1/2 innings, but did not score after that, allowing Susquehanna to rally for the walk-off victory with a run in the bottom of the ninth.
York got big offensive games from Grant Oberholzer (two hits, three runs), Austin Denlinger (two hits, double, two RBIs, run), Garrett Southern (two hits, RBI), Luke Turner (two RBIs) and Jack Barry (double, two runs, RBI)
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.