WEST CHESTER - Sometimes winning is more of a feeling than something exact.
That sentiment certainly fits the Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse team to a T.
No matter the outcome of Saturday's PIAA Class 2-A girls' lacrosse final against District 1 champion Radnor, the Ram players were already feeling like winners on the bus ride over to West Chester East High School, having raised over $4,000 for the family of Calie Swegon
Friday evening, the Rams were riding a high on an emotional roller-coaster over the past week.
That coaster, however, took a bit of a dip as the K-D program became the first team ever from District 3 to play in a girls' lacrosse state title contest.
The Raiders proved to be a notch or two above the very talented York-Adams League champions on the season's final day. Led by nine goals from All-American standout Julieanne Puckett, Radnor matched their own PIAA title-game record in goals scored (2010) with a convincing 20-8 victory.
K-D's historical season came to an end after an impressive 21-3-1 campaign.
“We played a team that was very hot," said Kennard-Dale coach Kelly Wetzel. "(Radnor) didn't make many mistakes and they capitalized on ours.”
Wetzel talked about two big keys for his team to be successful before the contest. One of those keys was limiting turnovers, something his team did 15 times in the first half.
“The Radnor girls never stopped moving their feet," Wetzel said. "They created things and they hustled to everything. Typically when we beat somebody, we're getting to the balls on the ground, but that wasn't the case (today).”
The other key Wetzel mentioned was controlling the draws. While the Rams did that nearly half of the time — including the first two of the contest — the turnovers eliminated scoring chances.
Those first two turnovers turned quickly into Radnor goals. Puckette picked up her first 81 seconds into action. Ellie Mueller scored just over 90 seconds later to make it 2-0.
The Rams pulled to within 2-1 after a goal by Megan Halczuk, but that would be the closest the District 3 runners-up would get. The Raiders scored six of the next seven goals to take firm command.
“We really did give it our all and we tried out hardest, but they were definitely the better team," K-D standout Emmie Dressel said. "And the score shows that. They were really amazing and I give a lot of credit to them.”
Dressel, who came into the contest with a well-balanced scoring mark of 94 goals and 94 assists, could never fully showcase her skills. Radnor hawked her with a double-team almost every time she touched the ball, forcing the LaSalle University recruit's teammates to make plays.
Other than Dressel, only Swegon found the net more than once as the K-D senior scored twice.
The outcome of the title game, however, couldn't prevent the Ram players from feeling good about themselves. Dressel had a huge smile on her face when talking about what she and her teammates did the night before the biggest game of their high school careers.
Swegon's father, Scott, is battling late-stage colon cancer and was hospitalized Monday before their semifinal contest against rival Susquehannock.
The K-D players and their families quickly rallied around the Swegon family to give their support. Scott Swegon has been one of the team's biggest fans this season, earning him the moniker of team 'Dad.' The team took to raising funds for the Swegon family during their difficult time by walking around popular restaurants in the Shrewsbury and Stewartstown areas with buckets seeking donations.
The preliminary tabulations show that $4,621.80 was raised, not including online donations or money buckets from two other locations.
Thus the smile on Dressel's face after the game was over.
“I honestly think we still won," she said. "We raised over $4,000 yesterday for Calie's family and, while the score doesn't show it, it really does feel like we did win.”
— Reach Ryan Vandrsloot at firstname.lastname@example.org