Few teams in the York-Adams League can give the Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse team a challenge on a routine basis.
York Catholic is the exception.
In their regular season meeting at the beginning of the year, the Fighting Irish tied the Rams after having a double-overtime win rescinded down to a tie due to a rule that states regular season games can't go longer than one overtime.
It was a harsh ruling for a York Catholic squad that proved it had the talent to contend with the league's premier program.
The two sides got a chance to settle an unfinished score on Friday night in the league championship game and, again, K-D found itself in a test against its fiercest rival.
Trailing by two with less than five minutes to play, the Rams did what champions do and found another level, ending the game with four unanswered goals to win 12-10 and grab a third consecutive Y-A League crown and sixth in the last seven seasons.
"Even being down, we knew we had it," senior Emmie Dressel said about the final run. "The mindset we were in was strong and we knew that no matter what, we just needed to score goals, do the assists, don't make any stupid mistakes and we really didn't at the end."
The fact that top-seeded K-D even had the poise to respond to that type of adversity was telling. As a dominant team, the Rams hardly play in close games where the final few minutes truly mean something, so to be in one in a championship game and need to rally to win said more about the team than the win itself.
Morgan Bowings got the rally started with a goal with just over four minutes to play to pull K-D to within 10-9. Calie Swegon continued the momentum with her second goal of the game to level the score and then Dressel put the team ahead for the first time since midway through the first half and this time for good. Maddie Day put home the insurance marker with just over a minute to play, capping the 4-0 run that spanned just three minutes.
"Those young ladies are very resilient," Rams' head coach Kelly Wetzel said. "The best I can say is they're resilient. They find a way. They did enough to win tonight, but they need to play better. They're capable of playing better."
In the early goings, it looked like K-D was going to, again, find itself in a walk-in-the-park type of game. It scored the game's first three goals in 7:36 to open a 3-0 lead and looked to be cruising.
Then, something flipped in No. 3 York Catholic.
The Fighting Irish responded well, rattling off seven of the next eight goals in the half to carry a shocking 7-4 advantage into the halftime break, doing it on the heels of a rarely used freshman, Julia Yanick.
Needing a spark, head coach Rob Linthicum inserted Yanick to take face-offs after falling behind 3-0 and the inexperienced Yanick delivered. She came up with several huge wins that got York Catholic the ball and allowed it to settle into its offense and take momentum away from the Rams.
"We were able to, in part, turn the swing around early when they had the lead by putting a freshman in to take the draw," Linthicum said about inserting Yanick. "She's not played a minute of varsity play all year, but she's really good at taking the draw for some reason...so we were using her, almost like the boys do as a FOGO (face-off, get off) specialist and we won a few draws that way and that allowed us to get that initial comeback."
The Fighting Irish maintained their lead into the second half and were content in trading goals with K-D through the first 12 minutes of the second half. However, their scoring dried up with just under 10 minutes to play and when the Rams got going down the stretch, York Catholic didn't have an answer.
Dressel led the charge for K-D with three goals and three assists, while Bowings had three goals herself and Swegon had two.
The Fighting Irish also had a pretty balanced attack, with four different girls recording two goals — Lauren China, Sarah Mazzur, Amanda Tufano and Anna Linthicum.
The two teams will now head into District 3 2-A play. The Rams are coming off their first District 3 title last season, but did it under one classification. This will be the first time that the district is split into two classifications, with both K-D and York Catholic falling under Class 2-A. The Rams are the No. 2 seed in the draw, while the Fighting Irish are the No. 3 seed, setting up a potential semifinal clash between the two rivals.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com