Playing for Swegon, K-D girls' lacrosse preps for state final
- Kennard-Dale is playing in its first ever PIAA state championship game on Saturday against Radnor.
- The Rams are the first team from outside of District 1 to play in the state title game.
- Kennard-Dale defeated Y-A League rival Susquehannock in the semifinals, 15-7.
The Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse team just had to make it to Saturday's PIAA Class 2-A girls' lacrosse state championship game.
It wasn't just about continuing the season.
Nor was it simply that getting there meant the Rams knocked off York-Adams League rival Susquehannock in the semifinals, avenging a District 3 2-A championship game loss.
Making it to Saturday's game would give Scott Swegon, the father of senior attacker Calie Swegon and unofficial team Dad, one final possible chance to see his daughter and K-D play a game.
The players had to do it for him.
Scott Swegon is battling cancer for the second time in his life, and had emergency surgery on Monday. With the uncertainty of what lies ahead for him, winning Tuesday's game was the least the players felt they could do, just in the slim chance he can make it to Saturday's title game.
"We played our hearts out for him," senior midfielder Emmie Dressel said after the semifinal win. "Of course, personally, I wanted to prove myself for him and show that I really wanted to win today so that maybe he can come to our game on Saturday and we can show him how much he means for us."
All the players wrote "Swegon Strong" on their arms before the game and went out and played as one, rolling past the Warriors, 15-7, to make the state championship game for the first time in program history.
Making history: While the Rams were, and still are, concerned with the health of Scott Swegon, getting to the championship game also made a little bit of program history.
Before this season, in the eight years that lacrosse has been a PIAA-sanctioned sport, only members of District 1, located in suburban Philadelphia, have played in the girls' state championship games. Of course, in each of the first eight seasons, there was only one classification.
Now, in the ninth year, the sport has been broken into two classes. K-D (21-2-1) is ready to make its mark on the sport. District 1's Radnor awaits in Saturday's tilt.
"This has been the thing they've been focusing on since December and January," Rams' head coach Kelly Wetzel said. "They've known it. Plan A has been to get to states and get to the state finals. That was their goal and I think it's kept them from checking out at times. It's kept them focused. When everything else has gone wrong, play for the girl beside you, play for your teammates and hope that everything works out well."
Tough foe awaits: The task of upending the Red Raiders (16-6) won't be easy. Radnor is a team that knows a thing or two about state success, winning the first two state gold medals in 2009 and 2010, while also finishing second on two other occasions, including last year.
The Red Raiders already dismissed one York County team from the state tournament, defeating York Catholic in the opening round, 13-6. By way of comparison, K-D played York Catholic three times, tying the Irish once (11-11) and earning two wins (12-10 and 13-8).
Radnor has shown the ability to win games in a couple ways, including a 20-8 blowout of Villa Maria in the state quarterfinals, and then winning a 4-3 defensive struggle over Bishop Shanahan in the state semifinals.
Don't let a record that includes six losses fool you. Radnor is a legit program that plays in, arguably, the strongest league in the state, something that hasn't gone unnoticed by Wetzel.
"The Central League, where Radnor plays, is extremely competitive," he said. "(The league) has produced almost every state champion so far, so to survive that is pretty impressive."
The four championship game appearances by the Red Raiders is tied for the most in the state.
A program on the rise: Meanwhile, K-D is a program that continues to surpass the previous year's successes and 2017 hasn't been any different. After capturing the program's first District 3 title last year and making it to the state quarterfinals, the furthest a Rams team had ever advanced, eclipsing last season's accomplishments was going to be difficult.
Yet, this team has managed to do just that. While K-D couldn't quite repeat as district champs, losing in the finals, 13-12, to Susquehannock, the team turned its attention to states. Now, the Rams are just one win away from being crowned the best 2-A girls' team in the state.
"We just want to leave our mark in the state and the county and represent our school," senior Gillian Zimmerman said. "Hardly anybody knows about Kennard-Dale, so we just want to make our town and community proud because they're such big supporters for us."
Saturday's championship game is set for 10 a.m. at Harold Zimmerman Stadium in West Chester.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com