The Susquehannock girls' lacrosse team defeated Wyomissing, while the Kennard-Dale team fell to Hershey, in the District 3 Class 2-A semifinals Tuesday, May 22, at Comet Field in Millersville. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch
MILLERSVILLE — Once the postseason hits, secondary scoring becomes of paramount importance.
That's because quality opponents often expend extra energy trying to extinguish your top talents.
Perhaps no playoff win this season made that point as effectively as Susquehannock's 13-11 triumph over Wyomissing in Tuesday's District 3 Class 2-A girls' lacrosse semifinal at Penn Manor High School's Comet Field.
Led by a cast of names that don’t normally dominate the score sheet, the top-seeded Warriors (19-3) will now have a chance to defend their Class 2-A district crown at 5 p.m. Thursday vs. Hershey at Lower Dauphin Middle School's Kreiser-Hallman Field. The second-seeded Trojans (19-2) rallied for a 12-11 triumph over third-seeded Kennard-Dale in Tuesday's other semifinal.
Stepping up: On a night when the fourth-seeded Spartans (16-6) would hold York-Adams League Attacker of the Year Kenna Hancock to just two shot attempts, it was a player normally known for her passing who stepped in and displayed a dangerous scoring touch.
Emma Stiffler scored four goals and added an assist, powering a Warriors attack that also produced a pair of goals each from Karen Hancock, Ariana Prediger, Harley Mummert and Maggie Howells.
“It’s huge. We’ve talked about it all year long. For a while, we were really only getting four (girls) scoring. We were getting odds and ends with five through eight, or whatever,” Warriors head coach Steve Marshner said. “And tonight we had some players step up who were big. And in a two-point game, every goal counts.”
Secondary attack snaps into action: With the Warriors trailing 3-1, it was the Susky secondary attack that snapped into action.
Mummert trimmed the Spartans' lead to one, and a minute later found herself again with ball, this time giving her defender a hesitation step before backing up to create space and flipping a pass to Prediger for her first goal of the game and a 3-3 tie.
With 11 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first half, Stiffler was looking to do her usual assisting act before engaging her defender directly, putting on a series of twisting dodges while working toward the net, and potting her second of the game to put the Warriors ahead 5-3.
Kalen Hancock’s second of the game ended a 6-0 Susky run that gave the Warriors a nice 7-3 cushion.
The Warriors would extend their margin to as many as six in the second half when Mummert posted her second score with 10:16 remaining.
The Spartans, however, would make things interesting with a 4-0 run of their own over the next eight minutes, making for an exciting final two minutes, with the Warriors ahead just 13-11.
McGuire strong in goal: One of the main reasons the Warriors held on late and earned the win was the timely play of goalie Sam McGuire.
McGuire’s high-raised stick broke up a number of Spartan possessions. She also posted seven on-the-spot saves in building the lead. One of the more important saves was her point-black stop of a Spartans shot with five seconds left in the first half that preserved momentum and an 8-5 Susquehannock advantage.
Sleepy start: The not-so-usual suspects finding offensive success saved Susky from a sleepy start, according to Marshner.
After Stiffler opened the game’s scoring, the Spartans seized momentum by rattling off three straight goals, born of slick passing to quick cutters through the heart of the Warriors defense. Jamie DiCarlo scored the first of her match-high five goals during the spree that pushed the Spartans in front, 3-1 with 19:35 left in the opening half.
“We were sleeping a little bit,” Marshner said of his team’s early effort. “We didn’t do anything, and I think they just surprised us with their speed and cuts. They’re a good cutting team.”
Marshner also credited the defensive effort of players such as Howells and Prediger.
Keep Helm in check: The Warriors defense was tasked with trying to slow down Spartans standout scorer JoAnna Helm. The junior Vanderbilt recruit torched Susky in the two teams' first meeting earlier this season, scoring six goals in a 14-7 Wyomissing win.
“She is a ball player. Last time we face guarded her and she killed us. I think she had six goals,” Marshner said. “And this time we played them straight up and it worked. We gave them too many opportunities with turnovers, but it was a lot better this time.”
Susky held Helm to one goal through much of the contest before she broke out and scored two more during the Spartans' late comeback attempt. She would finish with three goals and two assists.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.