TUESDAY'S DISTRICT 3 GIRLS' LACROSSE: York Catholic, South Western advance to title games

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
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York Catholic's Olivia Staples, left, and Cocalico's Naleah Sauder chase a loose ball in a District 3 Class 2-A lacrosse semifinal at Catholic Tuesday, May 25, 2021. York Catholic took the win, 12-7. Bill Kalina photo

Girls’ lacrosse may not be as physical as the boys’ version, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a price to be paid for success.

Sydney Mentzer proved that Tuesday evening when her York Catholic squad hosted Cocalico in a District 3 Class 2-A semifinal.

Mentzer is always giving it her all on the field, even if that means she’ll have to visit the athletic trainer a few times.

The Irish junior suffered a cut on her arm that forced her out of the game so that it could be cleaned up. She also got a cut on her knee after diving on the turf.

While Mentzer definitely didn’t enjoy the injuries, the fact that she and her teammates left the field 12-7 winners made her sacrifices acceptable ones.

“It was worth it,” said Mentzer, who scored four goals in the victory.

The 2019 district 2-A champs will return to the district title game to defend their crown at 5 p.m. Thursday at Landis Field in Harrisburg. The No. 2 seeded Irish (17-1) will take on top-seeded Twin Valley, a 12-6 winner over fourth-seeded Susquehannock on Tuesday, in the final.

Another York-Adams League team, South Western, will play in the 3-A championship game immediately after the 2-A final at Landis Field. The fifth-seeded Mustangs (17-2) moved on with an 18-9 road pounding of top-seeded Hershey (17-1) on Tuesday in 3-A semifinal action. South Western will meet Wilson in the 3-A final at approximately 7 p.m. Thursday. Third-seeded Wilson (16-4) downed second-seeded Manheim Township 19-12 in the other 3-A semifinal,

It figures to be quite a night for Y-A girls' lacrosse.

York Catholic's Shannon Staples slips past Cocalico defender Danika Sauder in a District 3 Class 2-A lacrosse semifinal at Catholic Tuesday, May 25, 2021. York Catholic took the win, 12-7. Bill Kalina photo

Shutting down Cocalico's star: “Coming into the game we knew they were an aggressive team,” said Mentzer, who was one of the stars of YC’s triumph over Kennard-Dale in the 2019 title clash. “Shutting down 21 (Hannah Custer) was a crucial part.”

Custer, a University of Richmond recruit who led the Lancaster-Lebanon League in goals (125) this season, scored all three of her goals in the first half. Her second tally put the Eagles ahead 3-2 with 11:25 left in the first half.

The Irish, however, tightened up their defense against the Cocalico standout after that. Custer scored her last goal of the game with just more than a minute left in the first half.

“Our defense has been key for us all year,” YC coach Rob Linthicum said. “And they came up big again tonight. We were slow to slide on her early, but after they called their timeout (in the first half) we were quicker to slide on her.

“We always wanted to get a double team, at least, against her. Sometimes we had a triple, which wasn’t necessarily by design, but it got the job done.”

With Custer being shut down in the second half, the Irish were able to maintain a comfortable multi-goal lead through the second half.

Balance a key for Irish: The Irish are a difficult team to defense because they don’t have just one big Division I standout to draw all the attention.

Mentzer is certainly a threat that teams have to be aware of, but teammates such as Olivia Staples (five goals, one assist), Ella Linthicum (two goals, four assists) and Shannon Staples (one goal) give the Irish a few extra dimensions if teams aim to take away a player or two.

“We do have multiple weapons out there,” coach Linthicum said. “If you only have one weapon, you can face guard, you can double team and you can triple team. There’s a whole lot of options to try to take that offense away, or at least slow it down.

“But we knew we would not be able to take their entire offense away. They’re a really good team and we knew they would score some goals against us.”

Coach proud of his defense: Coach Linthicum was proud that his club again held an opponent under eight goals.

The only time they failed in that regard was the team’s only blemish, a 14-6 setback against District 1 power Garnet Valley back in early April.

“We try to keep every team we play against to under eight goals against us,” Linthicum said. “So I’m glad to see we held them to just seven. That’s our goal, under eight, because we feel if we can keep our opponents under eight that we can score enough goals to win.”

The Irish will be tested in that regard Thursday against Twin Valley (20-1). TV has reached double digits in goals in all 21 of their games, which includes an 11-8 victory over Cocalico back on March 30.

Baker leads Mustangs: At Hershey, Ella Baker led the Mustangs to the victory over the Trojans by scoring five goals and adding three assists.

Katie Yocum scored five goals and had one assist for the Mustangs, while Chloe Batchelor and Lexi Plesic each collected two goals and three assists. Olivia Krouse scored one goal and added one assist for the Mustangs.

Warriors in third-place game: Despite their loss to Twin Valley, Susquehannock still has a chance to earn a state berth.

The Warriors (13-3) will travel to Cocalico (15-4) at noon Thursday in the 2-A third-place game. The winner will get a PIAA berth. The loser's season will be over.

In Tuesday's loss, Rachel Oestrike had two goals and two assists for Susquehannock, while K.C. O'Neill had seven saves.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com. Steve Heiser and Dave VanO'Linda contributed to this report.