It was important for the York Catholic boys’ lacrosse team and Irish coach Shane Harper to honor the life of Brendan O’Connor this season.
A 2013 graduate of York Catholic and a former Irish lacrosse standout, O’Connor died unexpectedly last September while practicing with his brother at college.
Before Thursday afternoon’s clash with backyard rival York Suburban, Harper and his team paid tribute to a player who they said exemplified everything that the Irish program is about. Harper spoke of O’Connor during a pregame ceremony when O’Connor’s family was given a No. 12 jersey that he wore while playing at York Catholic.
The Irish then paid even more tribute to the O’Connor family by taking care of business against a very short-handed Trojan squad. The hosts put the contest into the mercy rule late in the first half before cruising to an emphatic 22-3 triumph.
“It’s tough to lose anybody, especially somebody that you would call a friend,” Harper said. “It was a heartbreaking thing when (his death) went down a couple of months ago, but everybody loved him. There is nothing bad to say about him.”
O’Connor played on the varsity squad for just one season under Harper during his high school career, but quickly became one of the coach’s favorite players. According to Harper, O’Connor exemplified everything that Harper tries to teach his players.
Harper read a poem that he's recited to his players at times. This time, he read it in honor of O’Connor. "The Dash" emphasizes that the importance of a person's life is not in the date of his birth or his death, but for what that person does in between those two — "The Dash."
“I started using that about 9 or 10 years ago when we had a team that had all the potential in the world, but just didn’t want to put in the effort,” Harper said. “So I found that and used that in the locker room and the kids all said that it was the best thing they ever heard.”
The date of the contest, which fell just three days before Easter, was also important for Harper and the program.
“We knew that there would be a lot of people here because of Easter,” he said. “For us, we have a lot of people come back for the holiday and, for us, Easter is a big holiday for York Catholic.”
Short-handed Trojans no match for top-ranked team in District 3 2-A ratings: Just a few weeks ago, Thursday’s clash figured to be one of the more memorable games on the York-Adams League boys’ lacrosse schedule.
The Irish, who improved to 10-0 overall and 9-0 in the league with the victory, have been on a roll all year. They are ranked No. 1 in the District 3 Class 2-A power ratings.
Suburban had also been rolling, too. The Trojans entered the week at 7-1 overall and 6-1 in the league.
That, however, was before discipline was officially handed down to 11 Suburban players for breaking school district policy. The result left coach Frank Corto and his squad playing without several starters for Thursday’s clash. It even forced the program to cancel the rest of its junior varsity schedule due to a lack of eligible players.
“School rules were broken,” Corto said. “So we lost 11 guys, four of whom were starters. It all came down on Tuesday right before the Red Lion game (a 14-7 loss). We were having a great year, but, unfortunately, rules are rules.”
The result was a rather one-sided affair in which the Irish were able to score almost at will.
Snelbaker approaching historic milestone: While the contest failed to provide the tight affair that many would have expected, it did provide a chance for Irish standout Drew Snelbaker to inch closer to a career milestone.
The YC senior finished the day with 993 career face-off wins, leaving him seven shy of breaking 1,000. More importantly, however, is that Snelbaker is just 18 shy of tying Kollin Vaught’s league record in that category. Vaught, a 2018 graduate of Central York, set the mark at 1,011 last season.
“It’s something that I’ve been working for ever since I was a freshman,” said Snelbaker, a University of Tampa recruit. “It’s big for me.”
Snelbaker will likely break the 1,000 mark next Tuesday against Dover. If he doesn’t pass Vaught’s mark then, he more than likely will break it the following day in a nonleague clash with Red Land.
Susquehannock 9, Spring Grove 1: At Glen Rock, Gavin Held led the Warriors by scoring five goals. Also for Susquehannock, Alex Martuszewski scored two goals, Ben Wilson added three assists, Allen Clapp had one goal and one assist and goalie Connor Kernan made nine saves. For the Rockets, Nick Myers scored the lone goal, while Madison Moore added an assist. Susquehannock improved to 9-2 overall and 7-2 in the Y-A League.
New Oxford 14, West York 7: At New Oxford, Eryn Little led the Colonials by scoring five goals and adding one assist. Teammate Lauren Dubs scored three goals and added one assist. For the Bulldogs, Sydney Sweitzer scored a team-high five goals.
Susquehannock 10, Spring Grove 8: At Spring Grove, Kenna Hancock and Rachel Oestrike each scored two goals and added one assist for Susquehannock, while Kalen Hancock scored two goals. For the Rockets, Emma Randisi scored seven goals and added one assist, while Hannah Miller added two assists.
York Catholic 19, York Suburban 2: At Suburban, the unbeaten Irish rolled behind big nights from Sydney Mentzer (six goals, two assists), Ella Linthicum (four goals, two assists), Shannon Staples (two goals, assist), Kennedy Eckert (two goals, assist), Grace Doyle (two goals) and Natalie Neiman (goal, assist). Lulu Mooney scored both of Suburban's goals.
Dover 14, Red Lion 8: At Dover, Paige Lantz (five goals, assist), Kaitlyn DiGiovani (four goal, assist) and Annie Long (three goals) led the home team to the win. Kaiya Edwards (four goals), Megan McCarty (two goals) and Gabby Young (two goals) accounted for Red Lion's goals.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.