HERSHEY — Poised to be the first team to knock off Manheim Township in the seven years of the District 3 Tournament, Kennard-Dale couldn't have scripted a better start.
The top-seeded Rams jumped out to a 4-1 lead through the first 10 minutes, 27 seconds, forcing Blue Streaks coach Mark Pinkerton to call a timeout.
Then, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, the lead, the momentum and any shot of winning was gone.
Manheim Township scored six unanswered goals, five on a man-up situation, and cruised to a 16-9 win to advance to Thursday's championship game against Hempfield. The Rams (19-1) will face No. 2 seed Susquehannock (18-3) in the third-place game with a state berth on the line.
"We knew (Emily) McBride coming in was lights-out quick," K-D coach Kelly Wetzel said. "There's a reason she's a Division I commit. She's a fabulous player and she got the ball and went and we just didn't play great defense on her."
McBride, who will play at the University of Virginia next season, pulled her team out of the hole it dug for itself and led it to the win. She led all players with six goals, while chipping in two assists. Two of her goals and one of her assists came during the 6-0 Blue Streaks' run, while she also continuously won draw controls for her team to keep possession and the pressure on the Rams' defense.
Manheim Township scored 10 of the final 12 goals of the first half and took an 11-6 lead into the break. And when the two sides came out for the second half, there was no comeback magic for K-D. Instead, the Blue Streaks pushed their lead to 15-7, thanks to scoring four of the first five goals of the second half.
Any glimmers of hope that the Rams had, they squandered, including a man-up advantage with McBride in the penalty area and two free positions that were stopped by goalie Mimi Curtis.
"They know what to do," Wetzel said about his team's failure to execute. "They just didn't do it. They didn't execute what we do on our man-up plays. They didn't even come close to doing it. I think they got rattled and that took them out of their own game."
Aside from McBride's eight-point night, a number of other Manheim Township players had strong games on the offensive end. Elizabeth Petrosky scored three goals, while Maryn Bernhardt, Sarah Svetec and Hannah Wertz each had two-goal games. Curtis finished the game with eight saves.
For K-D, Morgan Day led the way with three goals, while Morgan Bowings and Emmie Dressel each had two. Lyndsey Duty had one goal and three assists and Hannah Bracey scored once to go along with two assists. Freshman goalie Clare Boone finished with 17 saves.
Day ties record: If there was any silver lining in the Rams' first defeat of the season, it came with 15 seconds left in the game, when Day scored her third goal of the game. While it didn't have much importance in the outcome of the game, it was her 459th career high school goal, tying her with the national record.
With K-D guaranteed at least one more game Thursday, she'll have a chance to break the national record against the Warriors, a team that's already seen Day twice this season. K-D won both previous meetings.
"She's not that flashy kid that wows you with the height or the speed or the physicality," Pinkerton said about Day. "She's just a really smart player. ... You don't find a lot of really good shooters in high school girls' lacrosse, to be quite honest, and I think she's just a kid that sees net and puts it in a good spot, so she finishes."
The goal now for the Rams is to regroup. They still have a shot to qualify for the state tournament. Thursday's consolation game at Lower Dauphin Middle School is set for 5 p.m.
"You got two teams that are disappointed and two teams that know each other very well," Wetzel said about Thursday's match-up. "So, we'll see what happens."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org