York College captures first conference title of spring, looks to add more
After women's golf won the MAC title over the weekend, five Spartan teams can hoist hardware of their own this week.
The calendar has turned to May, and spring sports championship season is fast approaching. While local high schools are still winding down their regular seasons, it’s already do-or-die time for college programs across the country.
York College is on the board with its first Middle Atlantic Conference championship of this spring, as the Spartan women’s golf team captured the title at a rain-shortened conference tournament over the weekend. It’s the program’s third straight MAC title, and the group is headed to the NCAA Division III Championships for the third time.
The Spartans’ team score of 324 on Saturday at Golden Oaks Golf Club in Fleetwood was 15 strokes clear of second-place Alvernia, and the group saw three players finish in the top five. Natalie Robson finished third with a 77, Tori Blanc was fourth with a 78 and Grace Strickland tied for fifth with an 80. Sunday’s play was rained out and York College was awarded the title.
The NCAA D-III Championships begin next Tuesday, May 9, at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. The Spartans will be among 29 teams in the field and are guaranteed to play at least three rounds. The top 15 teams and six individuals not on those teams will make the 54-hole cut and play the fourth round.
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A week earlier, the men’s golf team finished second at the MAC Commonwealth tournament with sophomore Gavin Ganter winning the individual conference title — and, accordingly, the league’s Player of the Year Award — by a stroke.
The women’s tennis season ended last weekend, with the Spartans falling to Lebanon Valley in the MACC finals. Men’s tennis went down in the conference semifinals last Tuesday, also at Lebanon Valley.
York College’s lacrosse, baseball, softball and track teams all have their own conference tournaments coming up this week. Here’s what’s on deck.
Men’s lacrosse: The Spartans completed a perfect run through the MACC with a 22-8 home win over Widener on Saturday. They’ll host the Pride once again at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the conference tournament semifinal.
As the tournament’s No. 1 seed, York (12-5, 8-0 in the regular season) will have home-field advantage in Saturday’s conference final should the Spartans advance. No. 2 Stevenson will host No. 3 Eastern in Wednesday’s other semifinal. Widener won the 4-5 play-in game, 18-12, over Messiah on Monday.
The winner of Saturday’s title game — scheduled for noon — will receive an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament. York College would likely be in that field no matter what, but the Spartans would prefer to enter the big dance with hardware already in hand.
Women’s lacrosse: It’s the same story for Jen Muston’s team, which beat Widener 15-4 on the road Saturday to finish 8-0 in the conference and 14-3 in the regular season. It’ll be another rematch Wednesday, with the Spartans hosting the Pride at 4 p.m. at Kinsley Field. Widener beat No. 5 Albright, 9-6, in Monday’s play-in game.
Messiah is the No. 2 seed in the women’s bracket and will host No. 3 Stevenson in the other semifinal. The title game is currently slated for 3 p.m. Saturday in York should the Spartans advance. And just like the men, this group will hope to bring a lengthy winning streak into NCAAs.
Baseball: Weekend weather left one crucial game on the schedule Tuesday, with the Spartans taking a visit to Widener on Tuesday. After splitting a doubleheader last Thursday, both teams sat at 14-9 in the league and were guaranteed spots in the MACC tournament. But the Pride’s 7-4 victory in the regular-season finale gave them the No. 3 seed in the bracket, while York College fell behind 14-10 Messiah and earn the No. 5 seed, forcing a play-in matchup with the Falcons on Thursday.
No. 1-seed Lebanon Valley and No. 2-seed Alvernia will both host three-game semifinal series Saturday and Sunday, with a doubleheader if necessary on the second day. The MACC best-of-three championship series will be played at the highest remaining seed May 12 and 13.
Softball: Not only are these Spartans also safely in the conference tournament field, but they grabbed the No. 3 seed with a pair of victories in Tuesday’s makeup doubleheader at Eastern. With wins of 4-2 and 4-0 (in eight innings), York finished the regular season 11-5 in the league (18-18 overall). The Spartans previously swept Albright on Monday to clinch their postseason berth, and now they’ll battle Messiah at noon Thursday.
Top-seeded Lebanon Valley will host the MACC tournament over three days from Thursday through Saturday. It’ll be a double-elimination bracket with either eight or nine games crammed into the weekend. York College, with a sub-.500 record entering the season finale, will need to win the tournament to make NCAAs.
Track and field: The MAC Outdoor Championships will run from Thursday through Saturday in York, with 16 programs converging for three long days of action. First and last events each day are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Thursday; 9:30 a.m. and 4:50 p.m. Friday; and noon and 4:55 p.m. Saturday, when the majority of event finals will be staged.
York College finished eighth on the men’s side and ninth on the women’s side at the MAC Indoor Championships in February.
Four Spartans earned MAC Commonwealth weekly honors Monday, including three lacrosse standouts. Women’s lacrosse attack Kiersten Blanchard and goalie Bella Garabo earned MACC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week, respectively, while men’s lacrosse goalie Jack Keller also won defensive honors and baseball’s Brandon Purdy won Pitcher of the Week.
Garabo has won DPOW six times in a row, and she handled business in net once again in York’s wins over Stevenson and Widener. Blanchard had a whopping 16 draw controls and scored four goals last Wednesday, and she added a goal, two assists and seven draw controls Saturday. Keller saved 10 of 16 shots in the men’s team’s win at Stevenson, which clinched the outright MACC title.
Purdy pitched six shutout innings in York College’s 1-0 win over Widener in the second game of a doubleheader last Thursday. The Pride had won the first game, 10-0, but the Churchville native forced a split that wouldn’t be decided until Tuesday.
After Penn State York finished second in the PSUAC East standings by a single game, the Lions’ season was on the line last Thursday in the conference tournament against Penn State Schuylkill. But after falling behind 4-0 in the third inning, PSY rallied for six unanswered runs and captured the seven-inning victory, 6-4.
Ryan Schubert (Kennard-Dale) delivered the go-ahead single in the fourth, while Camden Flinchbaugh (Dallastown) singled home an insurance run in the sixth. Jason Williams (Kennard-Dale) tossed 6 2/3 innings before Flinchbaugh came on for the final out to record the save.
Even after a 10-1 loss to Penn State Brandywine later in the evening, the Lions’ season will continue at Penn State’s main campus this weekend. They’ll play an elimination game against Penn State Mont Alto at 11 a.m. Sunday, with the winner playing again at 5 p.m. for the right to advance to Monday’s championship game. In all, the Lions would need four wins in two days to take the tournament title.