York College women's lacrosse rolls to MAC Commonwealth title, NCAA berth

The Spartans beat Messiah, 10-7, in Saturday's conference title game to win their second straight MACC crown.

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

York College women’s lacrosse coach Jen Muston is becoming accustomed to being doused with water after big victories this season.

After receiving yet another on Saturday, Muston hopes there will be at least one more in her future.

Facing local rival Messiah in the MAC Commonwealth title game at Kinsley Field on Saturday afternoon, the home-standing Spartans left little doubt as to who is the best team in the conference. York raced out to a big lead and held off a late Falcons rally to earn a 10-7 victory.

York College celebrating their win against Messiah during the Commonwealth Women's Lacrosse Final in York on Saturday, May 6, 2023.

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With their eighth straight triumph and their second consecutive MAC Commonwealth crown, the York women secured an automatic berth into next weekend's NCAA Division III Tournament. The Spartans learned Monday morning that they would host the first and second rounds of the tournament, facing either Stevens or Scranton at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“It feels awesome,” Muston said moments after her team drenched her from head to toe with the water cooler. “It was much colder last year when they did it, but this feels great. I want this water bath every year, because it means that we won.”

Muston’s team got off to a hot start over the first three quarters, building up a hefty advantage. Zoe Kluegel tallied a game-high five goals, including three during York’s 8-2 run to begin the contest. The visitors, however, controlled the final period, outscoring the Spartans by a 4-1 mark to pull within three goals.

“Offensively, I thought we were maybe a little choppy in the second half,” Muston said. “I would like to see us get in a flow a little better, and overall I just think our unit wasn’t as in-sync as we normally are.”

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The play of York goalie Bella Garabo stood out in the second half. The Spartan netminder, who was named the conference tournament MVP, finished with 12 saves, nine of which came over the final 30 minutes.

York College's Bella Garabo (13) against Messiah during the Commonwealth Women's Lacrosse Final in York on Saturday, May 6, 2023.

“Bella has just been unbelievable for us,” Muston said. “She’s like a brick wall back there and she’s played like that consistently all season. To have her back there is such a comfort, because we know that if there is a breakdown with the defense that she can still make a big save for us, like she did today.”

The MVP award was announced in a postgame ceremony, and the entire York team went crazy when Garabo’s name was announced. Garabo bear-hugged Muston before the team chanted “that’s our goalie” over and over again.

“This mean a lot,” said Garabo, a senior. “It’s like I said before, a brick wall is the entire team. We’re all a brick on that wall and I think we’re one of, if not, the top team in the nation and I think we’re going to continue to prove that.”

After making it all the way to the Elite Eight a season ago, the Spartans are hoping to take a step or two more this spring. The next step would be the program’s first-ever berth in the Final Four and maybe even a national championship, which would mean one more water dousing for Muston.

“Oh, I’d be fine with that,” Muston said with a smile.