DALLASTOWN — There was little comparison between York Catholic's first match-up with Susquehannock earlier this season and their second battle on Wednesday night.
Back in the York-Adams League regular-season opener for both girls' lacrosse teams, the Warriors squeezed out a narrow 12-11 triumph.
Wednesday, in the York-Adams League Tournament semifinals, it was an entirely different story.
The Irish took control early and never let up. Senior Anna Linthicum scorched the nets for a game-high five goals to help her team roll to an impressive 11-5 victory.
York Catholic, which finished third in the Y-A League regular-season standings, advances to face top-seeded Kennard-Dale in the finals at 7:30 Friday night at Central York High School. The Rams (14-1-1) cruised past South Western, 23-11, in the other semifinal.
"We pride ourselves on defense," York Catholic coach Rob Linthicum said. "And I've found out the way to win in this league on a consistent basis is to play outstanding team defense. And you probably heard me tell the girls that that was what it was all about tonight.”
The Irish (13-2-1) were able to limit a prolific Warrior offense to just one goal over the first 25 minutes of action. Finding themselves down 7-1 at the half was too big of a hole for Susquehannock to dig out of.
“We didn't play well in the first half or the second half," Susquehannock coach Steve Marshner said after his team fell to 15-2. "They literally beat us in every aspect of the game except turnovers. When you add that up, I'm quite frankly surprise that we only lost by six.”
While goal-scoring is quite visible in the box scores, it's often the plays that aren't noted that can make a big difference. Marshner was quick to point out the importance of Kayleigh Pokrivka to York Catholic's success. The East Stroudsburg-bound senior led the Irish after collecting eight ground balls as well as eight draw controls.
“We watched them picking up a lot of ground balls," said Marshner, who coaches Prokrivka during summer club season. "KP is a beast. She's awesome and she's going to make a direct impact at ESU right away as a freshman. She's a college player that we were watching out there.”
Pokrivka, who will room with Anna Linthicum next year at ESU, couldn't help but smile when she talked about her team's effort.
“It's amazing when your defense and your goalie just click," said Pokrivka, who scored a goal to go along with an assist in the triumph. "When the ball was on the ground, we got the ground ball. We just hustled.”
Irish, Rams tied in previous meeting: The Irish, who haven't lost since an opening three-game gauntlet that included Susquehannock, K-D and Manheim Township, will have just one day to prepare for a K-D team with whom they officially tied earlier in the season. Originally, the teams agreed to play a third overtime session, in which Catholic prevailed, before that result was nullified. Regular-season games can only have two overtime periods. It was ruled a tie a few days later.
“It was heart-breaking," Pokrivka said. "To hear two days later that it wasn't a win was kind of rough for all of us. But it's definitely giving us the motivation to come back and want to win it without going into triple overtime.”
In the Rams' win, Gillian Zimmerman led the way with seven goals. Maddie Day added six scores, Emmie Dressel had five goals and Morgan Bowings had four goals. For the Mustangs, Caitlyn Coates (four goals), Elizabeth Antoshak (three goals) and Hannah Huff (two goals) led the way.
K-D will attempt to win its third straight Y-A playoff crown and its sixth in seven years. The only year the Rams didn't claim the playoff title (2014), York Catholic earned the championship.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.