SPRING GROVE — Members of the Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse team didn't say they were anxiously anticipating a rematch with Susquehannock when the PIAA Class 2-A state brackets were released.
A few, however, did admit that there was some peaking to see if there was the possibility of meeting the Warriors prior to the state final.
That opportunity came Tuesday, when the two York-Adams League rivals squared off for the third time this season in the state semifinals at Spring Grove's Papermaker Stadium. With the season series deadlocked at one win apiece, the winner of Tuesday's match-up would not only take the season series, but also earn a berth into Saturday's gold medal contest.
That team will be the Rams, who used a lengthy scoring run spanning the majority of the first half to establish a sizable lead and cruise to a 15-7 win, clinching the program's first-ever bid into the state finals. The loss for the Warriors ended their season at 22-4.
"I can't say that we weren't thinking about this, because we wanted the opportunity," K-D coach Kelly Wetzel said. "We knew after the district loss that we would have the opportunity, if both teams won out, we would see them again. I won't say that it's sweet revenge, but we knew this could happen and we wanted another shot."
In the District 3 2-A loss to Susquehannock less than two weeks ago, the Rams (21-2-1) raced out to an early 3-0 lead. However, they didn't keep their foot on the gas and the Warriors eventually came back to win late, 13-12.
K-D made sure that didn't happen a second time.
After falling behind, 2-1 just more than five minutes into the contest, the Rams buckled down defensively and established a rhythm offensively. They proceeded to go on an 8-0 scoring run that spanned more than 16 minutes to build a 9-2 lead. Susquehannock could never recover.
"We didn't execute," Warriors' head coach Steve Marshner said. "We had multiple times when we made turnovers early on and our execution just wasn't where it has been. I thought we got our looks, but a couple times we made bad passes coming through. ... We played really, really hard, we just didn't execute it all the way through."
Susquehannock's lack of execution could be pinned on tired bodies, not from lacrosse, but from travel. After graduation last week, many of the seniors ventured to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for Senior Week and made the long journey back on Tuesday for the game. Marshner wouldn't pin the loss entirely on that, but he knows that played a part in the result.
The Rams made sure to take advantage.
"We didn't want them to get up on us, because in the district game, they got ahead and then held it and ended up winning," K-D senior midfielder Gillian Zimmerman said. "So, we just needed to put our foot on the gas the whole game and not give up."
The Susquehannock defense had few answers for the balanced Rams' attack, which was led by Y-A League Player of the Year, Emmie Dressel. She finished with two goals and five assists. Maddie Day, Morgan Bowings and Megan Halczuk each had three-goal performances for the Rams. Defensively, K-D got one of freshman Maria Schneider's best performances of the year. She made eight saves, a few of which came on free-position chances for the Warriors.
For Susquehannock, Kayla Held led the way with three goals and an assist, while Gena Speights had two goals. The Warriors, however, played without standout midfielder Rachel Marshner for much of the night after she tweaked an ankle midway through the first half and missed the rest of the game. It wasn't the way the senior wanted to end her illustrious career. After it was over, it allowed her dad and coach to reflect.
"It's like a love-hate relationship for four years," Steve said about coaching Rachel. "...You're there all the time, but you'd be really surprised at how many things you don't see in games because your responsibility is to the team and not to your kid. So, you turn around because you're talking to somebody and something happens and you miss it. It's a great thing and, at the same time, it's a hard thing and it's just as hard on the parent as it is on the child. I'm sure she'd say she wishes she had someone else and there were other times when it was a pretty good experience."
The Rams will now face District 1 champion Radnor in Saturday's title game set for a 10 a.m. start at West Chester East High School's Harold Zimmerman Stadium.
Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com.