Along with calling out his team's offensive sets on Thursday, York Catholic girls' lacrosse head coach Rob Linthicum could often be heard calling out another common command — "Cut."
The Irish's ability to get into the heart of the Hempfield defense played a big part in them jumping out to large lead early in the District 3 quarterfinal contest at Hershey High School. It's a lead they would protect before claiming a 13-10 victory.
The win marks the first time York Catholic (19-1) has advanced past the second round of the district tournament in program history. The top-seeded Irish will return to Hershey High on Tuesday to face No. 5 Exeter at 7 p.m. Exeter defeated No. 4 Wilson, 9-2, in another quarterfinal on Thursday.
"It was huge," Linthicum said of his team's ability to beat the defense early. "We have had some trouble cutting against schools that have a lot of speed. It's hard for us to get that step, and sometimes, because of that, the girls will get frustrated with it and stop cutting and we try to reinforce that it's important to keep cutting. We need that constant motion, that's what our offense is premised on, it opens up other things even if the cutter doesn't get open."
Making history is seldom easy, and Thursday's victory was no exception for the Irish.
After trading goals to open the second half, making the score 11-6 in favor of York Catholic, the Irish saw the No. 8 Black Knights (15-6) rattle off four of the next five goals. That cut the Irish lead to 12-10.
The Irish ware able to squelch any comeback efforts with a solid defensive stand on Hempfield's next time down the field, punctuated with a great defensive play from Carlin Mayer to gain possession. While working that possession to drain the time left, York Catholic was able to add another goal with 14 seconds left to seal the outcome.
York Catholic is at its best when its offense is able to get set and employ crisp passing to utilize those cuts to the high slot in front of the net for quick strikes. It's how the Irish were able to race out to an early 6-1 lead in the first 7:30 of play on Thursday. One player to find success in that spot was Anna Linthicum, who drove home the game's first two goals. Linthicum would later feed a quick-cutting Lauren China for her only goal of the game to provide the quick cushion.
The Irish were efficient with the ball, converting on 10 of the 14 possessions in the first half, providing them with a 10-5 lead at the half.
"I think we did a nice job early in the game of settling the ball on offense and running our offense," Linthicum said. "We've been such a strong defensive team and offense has sort of been hit or miss all season, and I think that was key for us."
Lindsey China and Lisa Casagrande led York Catholic with three goals each. Casagrande had an assist as well. Kirsten Lake made 10 saves in net to collect the win for the Irish.
OTHER DISTRICT 3
No. 6 Manheim Township 21, No. 3 Susquehannock 11: At Hershey, the Warriors weren't able to withstand a late first-half charge from the Blue Streaks, leading to the end of their season.
The loss closes the year one win shy of a PIAA tournament berth for Susquehannock (17-4).
With the scored tied at 5-5 after a Gena Speights goal, and 6:01 left in the opening half, the Blue Streaks (16-5) closed the half by scoring five unanswered goals. The Warriors were unable to recover.
"We were trying to be patient and trying to break the zone," Warriors coach Steve Marshner said. "It's not about running up and down the field, which is what we ended up doing. The crazy part about that is it got away from us when they went two cards down (tied at 5-5). We got the ball and threw it away, they went down and scored and we never really got the ball back. Before we knew it, we were down six or seven goals."
Speights led the way for Susquehannock with four goals and two assists. Riley Roeder added three goals.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.