York Catholic boys' lacrosse head coach Shane Harper discusses his team's 17-5 loss to Palmyra in the District 3 Class 2-A Semifinals on May 21. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch
MILLERSVILLE — It wasn’t the fact that his York Catholic boys’ lacrosse team lost to Palmyra that most bothered head coach Shane Harper.
It was how his fourth-seeded Irish (14-5) went about dropping Monday’s District 3 Class 2-A semifinal match with the top-seeded Cougars (20-1) that truly disappointed him.
The Irish head coach felt that his team simply got caught up in the moment of being in uncharted territory against a premier opponent. Then, when it was apparent his club was overwhelmed and overmatched, Harper felt his club just gave in.
The result was a 17-5 loss to the defending District 3 2-A champions.
“We couldn’t get past the game. We’ve never been here before and we couldn’t get past the game and couldn’t get past the Palmyra name,” Harper said. “It’s tough, and unfortunately, in my opinion, our kids just quit. They did not give it all they had the whole game, and if they would have, it wouldn’t have been 17-5. … So that’s frustrating.”
The reality of it all seemed to set in early in the fourth quarter on a series that put a deflated look on just about every member of the Irish.
The Cougars’ Grant Haus scored his third goal of the game with 8 minutes, 17 seconds to play, pushing the Palmyra lead to 14-4 — a sobering margin in a playoff game. But when Seth Robertson won the ensuing draw and took it himself for a score mere seconds later, a series of shoulders slumped and heads hung.
Early signs of trouble: The first sign that the Irish might be overwhelmed came midway through a first quarter that had seen the Irish with the better and more frequent chances.
Things seemed to suddenly snap for the Cougars, and the top seeds displayed a quick-strike offense predicated on fast ball movement that the Catholic defense couldn't match.
Haus got his first score of the game with 8:08 left in the first quarter and set up Robertson’s first goal just more than a minute later.
After forcing one of 21 Irish turnovers, the Cougars defense got the ball quickly ahead to T.J. Caton. The junior attacker then flipped a quick pass to Alec Richard, who scored his first of afternoon to suddenly put the Cougars in control.
Sensing things starting to get away from his club, Harper called a timeout.
The break in action appeared to have a positive effect. Catholic held Palmyra to one goal the rest of the quarter before playing an even second quarter with the Cougars.
During the second period, Catholic’s Cole Witman was finally able to utilize his series of slick moves near the net to record his first of two goals and break a 7-0 Palmyra run. Later in the quarter Dimitri Amalfitano would assist on Witman’s second.
Chandler Hake scored the first of his two goals with eight seconds before halftime to trim Palmyra’s lead to 8-3.
Irish offense stalls: The Irish are usually an offensive club that relies on sustained scoring sprees. However, Monday’s attempts to get rolling were often stymied by the stellar play of Cougars keeper Clay Mangin. The sophomore made 13 saves, many coming while snuffing out just about every Irish attempt to start a run.
“We like to play offense, and when we’re not scoring it’s tough on our team. We like those high-scoring games on both ends,” Harper said. “But we just couldn’t put it in the net. Their goalie played really well. He was saving everything we put at him. … We couldn’t put it in the back of the net and we just dropped our heads more than we should have.”
The Cougars were led by a three-goal, two assist effort from Jake Herman to move into Wednesday’s Class 2-A title game, where they’ll take on second-seeded Trinity. The Shamrocks defeated Susquehannock 10-8 in Monday’s other semifinal.
Susquehannock up next: Next up for the Irish is the 2018 trilogy game with the third-seeded Warriors on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined. The Warriors defeated the Irish during the regular season, before Catholic claimed revenge by downing Susky in the York-Adams League semifinals before collecting the league title.
After that, both teams will move into next week’s PIAA Class 2-A state playoffs.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.