York Catholic girls' lacrosse coach steps down

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
For The York Dispatch

The York Catholic girls’ lacrosse team has played 14 years as a PIAA-sanctioned sport. Over those 14 years, there has been but one head coach for the Fighting Irish — Rob Linthicum.

There have been a few lows over that time, but the majority of the time during Linthicum’s career at York Catholic was filled with nothing but highs. Despite the sustained level of success over his tenure, Linthicum knew that his time at the helm was drawing near a close.

That finality became a reality this summer when Linthicum notified the York Catholic athletic department that he was resigning as head coach in early August.

“I didn’t have a club team (with the York Invaders) this summer, so that kind of gave me time to think about my future,” Linthicum said. “It was just some relaxing time to just clear my head and decide whether or not this really was the right time. And I gave it some time before finally making the decision.”

A fair bit of Linthicum’s decision centered on finding time to watch his daughter Ella play collegiately at Millersville. Ella, who played for her father at York Catholic before graduating in 2021, didn’t play much due to injuries as a freshman but figures to be a big part of the Marauders this spring.

“I’d like to get to more games,” Rob Linthicum said. “And that was probably the biggest reason (for stepping down).”

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While Linthicum, who led the Irish to two York-Adams League and District 3 2A titles and four regular season Y-A division crowns, could have stepped down after Ella graduated, he didn’t want to abandon a group of seniors who were the core of York Catholic’s recent success.

Players such as Sydney Mentzer, Olivia Staples, Grace Doyle, Maddie Williams and Maddie Perry were all freshmen when Linthicum led the Irish to the program’s first-ever District 3 title in 2019. The disappointment of not being able to play at all during the 2020 season was both bitter and motivating. The Irish came back after the one-year hiatus to claim a second D3 crown in 2021.

With a chance for a third one in four years, Linthicum didn’t want to risk throwing things off course. So, he returned and led the team to another impressive run that ended with a Y-A title but a runner-up finish in the district final against Twin Valley.

The season — and ultimately Linthicum’s coaching career — ended in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals, where the Irish dropped another one-goal game against Bishop Shanahan.

York Catholic Head Coach Rob Linthicum, left, hugs his daughter Ella Linthicum after the team won 14-8 over Twin Valley during PIAA District 3, Class 2-A girls' lacrosse championship action on Landis Field at Speed Ebersole Stadium at Central Dauphin Middle School in Harrisburg, Thursday, May 27, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“I had quite a few seniors on this past year’s team that I had also been coaching in club ball since they were very young,” Linthicum said. “And I had pretty much committed to staying with the high school team through their graduation, which was this year. So, I really hadn’t given it any thought prior to this season.”

There’s no doubt that Linthicum with be sorely missed. He helped guide the York Catholic program through the early years when the Irish were competing against the biggest and best schools in the district and the state. Despite consistent success at the local level, the Irish, like other local rivals such as South Western and Kennard-Dale, never had much of a chance to qualify for the state draw.

“I think we took some really big strides to become more competitive,” Linthicum said. “In years past, once any Y-A team got to the district level, typically the outcomes weren’t really that close. We were beaten and beat pretty soundly.”

Things started to change when the PIAA broke the sport − which had always been one classification − into two starting in 2017. The Irish qualified for the state tournament for the first time after placing third in the District 3 2A draw. York Catholic was knocked out in the quarterfinals in 2018 before embarking on an unbeaten run in the district playoffs that ended with the loss to Twin Valley in the finals this spring.

“I’m particularly proud that York Catholic, for as small of a school as we are, has been able to succeed despite playing a number of schools that are significantly larger than us,” Linthicum said. “And that’s been at the district and the state levels, so that’s something that I’m really proud of.”