York College women's lacrosse ends brilliant season in NCAA quarterfinals

The Spartans' Elite Eight run was cut short by Gettysburg College on Sunday.

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

What a difference a day makes in the NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse tournament.

On Saturday afternoon, the No. 10-ranked York College women played one of their most complete games of the season, defeating archrival and No. 4 Salisbury in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

A little less than 24 hours later, however, the Spartans couldn’t find a way to keep their momentum going through the Elite Eight against No. 9 Gettysburg.

Taking on the Bullets on the campus of the Washington & Lee University, the York women fell behind by six goals in the first quarter and were never able to recover. Gettysburg claimed its spot in the Final Four with a 17-8 triumph in Lexington, Virginia.

York College's Teresa Matthias (30) against Messiah's Hannah Gawne (14) during the Commonwealth Women's Lacrosse Final in York on Saturday, May 6, 2023.

“We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy,” York coach Jen Muston said. “Saturday was a really great day for us — we really stepped it up the way that we needed to. And we knew (Sunday) was going to be a quick turnaround for another really tough game.”

Riding a 10-game winning streak into Sunday’s contest, the Spartans (18-4) were on the cusp on breaking the school record for most victories in a season and earning the program's first-ever berth into the national semifinals.

The Bullets, however, proved to be no pushovers. Having already handed York an 19-9 setback in March, the Gettysburg women blitzed the Spartans early to set the tone and take command.

Jordan Basso torched York for five goals in the victory, while fellow Bullets Katie Fullowan and Gabi Conner each recorded hat tricks with three tallies apiece.

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The 17 goals allowed were the second-most this season by the York women, with the highest (19) being the number Gettysburg scored in the previous meeting.

“They play very fast and not everyone plays like that,” Muston said. “It can catch you off guard, and I think that’s what it did to us a little bit today.”

York fell behind 6-0 in the first quarter before Kiersten Blanchard found the net in the final 30 seconds of the period to get the Spartans on the board. The York women, however, were unable to build on Blanchard’s goal; they fell further behind as Conner and Basso made it 8-1 less than three minutes into the second quarter.

Blanchard and Zoe Kluegel combined for back-to-back tallies late in the third period, which was the lone time all day the Spartans strung together multiple goals. Those scores, however, only cut the deficit to 14-6.

“We were definitely expecting it to be a closer game and a better result,” Muston said. “It just didn’t work out that way.”

York College's Kiersten Blanchard (16) against Messiah's Regan Gillisse (9) during the Commonwealth Women's Lacrosse Final in York on Saturday, May 6, 2023.

The seniors that Muston coached these past four years — from Blanchard and midfielder Mia Alvarez to defender Sarah Cristensen and star goalie Bella Garabo, among others — were part of the driving force behind York’s run to the Elite Eight this season. Muston and the coaching staff will dearly miss the group's contributions on and off the field in the future.

“It’s a really special group,” Muston said. “They brought everyone in and we played as a group together all year. They expected and demanded certain things from everyone on the team, and it takes seniors like that to lead the way.

“We had a goal to make it back to the Elite (Eight) round of the NCAA Tournament, as we haven’t been there in a while ... and this year we did that and we were led by our seniors and our upperclassmen. Again, they’re just really special and I can’t say enough about them.”


The Spartan softball team ended its season with a pair of losses in the NCAA Tournament, falling 8-3 at No. 10-ranked Christopher Newport on Thursday and 7-0 against Misericordia on Friday. York College (23-21) punched its ticket to the dance with an impressive run through the MAC Commonwealth tournament, winning five straight elimination games to capture the conference title.

Two York College track and field athletes were invited to participate in this week's NCAA Division III championships. Julia Pena will represent the women's team as the No. 9 seed in the pole vault, No. 11 in the long jump and No. 12 in the 100-middle hurdles; the senior won the pole vault and long jump at the MAC outdoor championships while finishing second in the hurdles. On the men's side, junior Andrew Mott is headed to nationals in the shot put, where he'll be seeded sixth. Mott won the All-Atlantic Regional title last Wednesday with a throw of 53.42 meters. The three-day championships will begin Thursday in Rochester, New York.