TUESDAY'S DISTRICT 3 GIRLS' LACROSSE: South Western, New Oxford, Kennard-Dale earn wins

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
717-505-5403/@ydsports
South Western's Leah Leonard takes a shot over Warwick's Leah McKay in a District 3 Class 3-A girls' lacrosse match at South Western Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Bill Kalina photo

HANOVER — Like nearly all high school lacrosse squads this season, the South Western girls needed some time to improve and grow.

With a number of sophomores and freshmen getting their first opportunities with the varsity team, it took some time before the newbies found their footing.

The good news for coach Randy Kavanaugh was that he had a pair of experienced leaders in senior Ella Baker and junior Katie Yocum to help shoulder some of the load.

As the season progressed, and the younger Mustangs came into their own, the pressure on those two lessened.

The onset of the District 3 Class 3-A playoffs, however, meant that both Baker and Yocum would need to be at, or near the top, of their games if the South Western girls wanted to earn some success.

South Western's Kayleigh Kight, left, and Warwick's Clara Ford battle for a loose ball in a District 3 Class 3-A girls' lacrosse match at South Western Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Bill Kalina photo

Fortunately for Kavanaugh, those two played like the all-stars they are on Tuesday night when the Mustangs hosted Warwick in a district first-round clash.

Yocum answered an opening goal by the Warriors with a trio of tallies to set the tone. Baker added three of her own to help South Western earn a satisfying 14-8 triumph.

That was part of a successful night for Y-A girls' teams. New Oxford and Kennard-Dale also earned district wins, with Spring Grove being the only Y-A team to suffer a setback.

The fifth-seeded Mustangs (15-2) now advance to the quarterfinals, where they will travel to No. 4 seed Governor Mifflin (12-5) at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Berks County power was off Tuesday. The top four seeds in the bracket earned byes.

South Western's Khloe Batchelor, left, and Warwick's Katie Jeanes chase a loose ball in a District 3 Class 3-A girls' lacrosse match at South Western Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Bill Kalina photo

"I just felt really motivated," said Yocum, who finished with four goals on the night. "We all felt like we were in this to win it."

Strong first half: Yocum's outburst early in the first half helped the Mustangs gain a 5-1 advantage. That forced a timeout by the visitors, who rallied after that to draw as close as 6-4 midway through the half.

Like Yocum did earlier in the half, Baker followed suit after Kavanaugh called a timeout to get his team back on track. The senior found the net on the ensuing two possessions to push the advantage back to four.

"Katie and Ella did a good job, especially in the first half," Kavanaugh said.

The Mustangs added another two before the end of the half to take a six-goal advantage (10-4) into the intermission.

Second-half struggles: Playing with a nice cushion, however, seemed to take some of the edge off of the Mustangs in the final half, which is something that Kavanaugh was a bit disappointed with.

"After the first half we did get a little complacent and we need to do a better job of protecting the ball as a team," he said. "It was 4-4 in the second half and I think we could have done a little better."

A win is a win, however, especially during the playoffs. So while Kavanaugh wasn't 100% happy with the play, he was all smiles about the result.

South Western will try to make history: He and his squad will now get a chance to make a little school history Thursday against the Mustangs of Governor Mifflin.

After earning the program's fourth District 3 playoff victory, a win Thursday would not only be the first non-first-round triumph, it would also earn the team a trip to the PIAA playoffs as well.

"That's our goal," Kavanaugh said. "I don't know much about Governor Mifflin, but we're just looking to make it to the states."

Yocum would also thoroughly enjoy accomplishing that feat to help elevate the program to the next level. She's felt really good about the growth of the youngsters over the course of the season, which has spurred a resurgence in confidence up and down the lineup.

"We started off a little slow, but we really started clicking as a team," Yocum said. "We've had some players come out of their shells and we're all just working really well together. I think we're going to work hard tomorrow at practice and I think we're going to just go out and kill it Thursday."

Khloe Batchelor finished with two goals and three assists for South Western. Leah Leonard also tallied two goals, while Maddie Zier added a goal and three assists. South Western goalie Morgan Melucci finished with eight saves.

OTHER DISTRICT 3 GIRLS' LACROSSE

New Oxford 13, Conestoga Valley 10: At New Oxford, the eighth-seeded Colonials earned their first-ever District 3 victory with a first-round 3-A triumph over the No. 9 seed. Hannah Zimmer scored five goals and added one assist to lead the Colonials. Ally Mathis had two goals and two assists for New Oxford, while Morgan Sauter scored two goals and had one assist and Bethany Cohee picked up two assists and scored one goal. New Oxford (13-3) moves on to the quarterfinals and will travel to No. 1 seed Hershey (16-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday. Hershey had a bye Tuesday. CV finished at 12-5.

Kennard-Dale 14, Berks Catholic 13 (OT): At Reading, Kennard-Dale made the long journey to Berks County and returned home with the come-from-behind overtime win in a District 3 Class 2-A first-round contest. K-D trailed 8-4 at halftime, but used a 9-5 second-half surge to force overtime. The No, 9 seed Rams improved to 11-7. No. 8 seed Berks Catholic finished at 11-7. K-D will now hit the road again for a district 2-A quarterfinal contest at No. 1 seed Twin Valley (16-1) at 7 p.m. Thursday. Twin Valley had a bye Tuesday. Mikayla Hostler led K-D with seven goals.

Lampeter-Strasburg 13, Spring Grove 8: At Lampeter, the Rockets' season came to an end with a District 3 Class 2-A first-round setback. No. 10 seed Spring Grove finished at 9-8. No. 7 seed L-S improved to 13-6.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.