EMIGSVILLE — Whispers about the possible demise of the traditionally strong York Catholic girls’ lacrosse program could be heard in some corners of the York-Adams League recently.
Losses to an upstart South Western outfit and a perennially tough Kennard-Dale crew left the Irish at 1-2 heading into play this week.
With a big showdown slated for Monday evening against another upstart program in unbeaten Central York, the Irish wanted to quiet the whispers.
That's exactly what they did.
Trailing the Panthers for much of the contest on a cold and windy night with snow flurries falling, the visiting York Catholic girls heated up at just the right time. Trailing by two goals with under 10 minutes left in regulation, the Irish got two goals from Lauren China and another by Sarah Mazzur in a seven-minute stretch to take the lead late.
After gaining possession with just more than a minute left, the visitors were able to close out an 8-7 triumph by keeping possession until the final horn.
The Irish improved to 2-2, while the Panthers fell to 5-1.
“We haven’t really been able to get outside that much,” said China, who scored the game-winner with 1 minute and 50 seconds left. “But we’re doing our best.”
China (pronounced Kee-na) and her teammates, over the final eight minutes, resembled the squad that head coach Rob Linthicum has been looking for. They won every draw and were able to systematically pressure the Central defense with their possession.
That pressure led to a flurry of fouls committed by the Panthers during the Irish comeback. That led to some prime scoring options on free position plays in the scoring area.
Little time outdoors: While the Irish were far from perfect, the fact that they had success Monday, despite very little time to practice outside, says something. The lack of practice time outdoors has certainly hampered the team’s improvement.
“We’ve really struggled with our transition in these few games so far,” Linthicum said. “Because we just haven’t been able to get out and practice on the field. We obviously have a lot to work out.”
China has felt the frustration with her team’s early-season struggles, especially on the offensive end of the field. While teams such as Central, Susquehannock and Dallastown have turf fields to practice on during the wet days, the Irish have no such luxury. Instead of practicing outside, the Catholic girls have had to settle for indoor drills for much of March and early April.
“We’re working really hard as a team to get our offense going,” she said. “We have to move it around and make sure that everyone’s involved because it’s hard when we’re not doing that. We’re doing our best since we’ve only been inside most of the season so far.”
China, Mazzur lead way: The struggles have been equally frustrating for Linthicum. The Irish coach can fortunately rely on a pair of standouts in Albright-bound China (three goals) and Seton Hill recruit Mazzur (two goals).
“Early in the game we kind of made some mistakes, but down the stretch the seniors kind of stepped up,” he said. “They were huge down the stretch.”
Central raced out to a 3-1 lead midway through the first half before taking a 5-4 advantage into the intermission. The Irish, however, held the hosts to just two goals in the second half, the final of which came with 8:51 left that put Central ahead 7-5.
Abby Carlisle finished with three goals for Central, while Liz Rader added a pair.
Big contest looms: While Monday’s contest was a big test for the Irish, an even bigger one is on the horizon Friday. That’s when York Catholic will host rival Susquehannock, the defending District 3 Class 2-A champion.
“We’re hoping to get outside tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday,” China said of her team’s preparations for games Thursday against Spring Grove before Friday’s showdown. “We’ve only had like five practices outside so far.”
Mechanicsburg 11, York Suburban 10: At Suburban, the home team fell just short despite six goals from Kamille Wasilewski, two goals from Katherine Mooney and one goal each from Julia Stell and Anna Williams. Tara Vo had four saves for Suburban.
Central York 20, Dover 3: At Dover, Ryan Fahs, Alex Kilgour and Matt Hawksworth each scored three goals to lead the Panthers. Also for Central, Ryan Kilgour, Connor Hoch and Coley Bagwell each scored two goals. Central improved to 4-0 both overall and in the York-Adams League. For the Eagles, Sean McDonald recorded all three scores.
Red Lion 19, Kennard-Dale 0: At Red Lion, Elijah Workinger led the Lions by scoring four goals and adding three assists. Trevor Rider had three goals and five assists, Coulson Bittner had three goals and two assists, Quintin Lyons and Dylan Ehrbaker each scored three goals, Zach Mentzer added three assists and Nicolas Shultz added two assists.
Dallastown 17, New Oxford 7: At Dallastown, Ethan Pickett had seven goals and an assist to power the Wildcats. Braven Morris added three goals and three assists, while Tanner Haines had three goals and an assist.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.