MECHANICSBURG — With NCAA Division I recruits such as Megan Halczuk and Mackenzie Young on the Kennard-Dale girls’ lacrosse roster, one would naturally assume that one of those two would have the ball in crunch time.
On Tuesday, however, it was a lesser-known Rams player who helped extend the team’s season.
The crucial moment came during overtime in Tuesday’s PIAA Class 2-A first-round state contest against Bishop Shanahan, the third-place team from District 1.
Autumn Kramer took a feed from Young and raced toward the goal before placing a shot above the stick of the Shanahan goalie and finding the net for the game-winning tally, helping Kennard-Dale rally back to claim a dramatic 12-11 triumph at Eagle View Middle School.
The Rams (18-5) move on to the quarterfinal round Saturday at a time and location yet to be determined. The York-Adams League playoff champs will get District 12 champ Archbishop Carroll, which downed Pottsgrove 19-4 on Tuesday.
It was the first time a District 3 team beat a District 1 team in the 2-A state playoffs. District 1 has traditionally been the strongest district in the girls' state lacrosse playoffs.
Also moving into the state quarterfinals is District 3 2-A champion York Catholic (22-1). The Irish cruised past District 7 runner-up Hampton, 18-5, in the second game of a doubleheader at Eagle View, located in the Cumberland Valley School District. The YC girls will get the winner of the first-round state tilt between District 7 champ Oakland Catholic or District 10 champion Villa Maria at a time and location yet to be determined on Saturday. The Oakland Catholic-Villa Maria game was postponed on Tuesday until Wednesday.
“I saw that Mackenzie was drawing a double (team) and I just saw my opportunity to get open when her girl slid off,” said Kramer, who had an assist to go with her only goal of the contest. “We’ve done that multiple times before and I knew that she would find me there.”
A second later, Kramer shot the ball into the net, setting off a big celebration on the field.
“I don’t really remember what happened,” she said with a smile. “It all just happened so fast.”
Halczuk forces OT: While Halczuk didn’t earn a point on Kramer’s tally, the Rams would not have been in the position to win the game had it not been for the University of Maryland Baltimore County recruit. Halczuk won the draw to begin the OT session, which turned out to be the 699th draw win of her standout career.
Halczuk was also responsible for getting the game into overtime after Shanahan took an 11-10 lead with just more than two minutes left in regulation. The Eagles were able win the ensuing face-off before calling timeout with 1:53 left.
During that timeout, K-D goalie Maria Schneider (eight saves) loudly encouraged her team to fight through the fatigue of playing on a humid and wet surface. Schneider came out of her goal as the Shanahan girls were looking to run out the clock.
“Maria is probably one of the three or four fastest players on the entire team,” K-D coach Kelly Wetzel said. “She’s a defender on her club team and she plays field hockey. She just runs and runs. She’s so athletic. I’m a lucky man to have her on the team, that’s for sure.”
Schneider was able to help direct the play to the far corner, where Jenna Soukaseum came up with the defensive play of the game. Soukaseum, who led the Rams with five goals, drew a charge that gave the Rams possession with 80 seconds remaining.
That play also resulted in the Shanahan coach drawing a yellow card for voicing his displeasure with the call. That put the Eagles down a player, which proved beneficial when Halczuk (three goals, two assists) tied it up off a free-position play with 48.2 seconds left.
The Rams had a chance in the final seconds to try to win it, but the ball, which was slippery after a heavy downpour that caused a 30-minute delay, eluded Halczuk’s stick with two seconds left.
“We were concerned with how the ball would come out of our pockets after the rain delay,” Wetzel said. “We wanted to keep the momentum that we had, but we didn’t until the last couple of minutes.”
The Rams led 8-4 at intermission, but the Eagles responded to a bit of a verbal tirade by their coach at the break. Shanahan outscored K-D by a 7-3 clip over the final 25 minutes.
Now the Rams will get ready for a showdown with an Archbishop Carroll team that played on the 3-A level last season.
“I personally know that Archbishop Carroll is a very good team,” Wetzel said. “... It’ll come down to doing all of the small things right.”
Irish cruise to easy victory: The Y-A League regular-season champ and playoff runner-up wasted little time in taking charge against the Talbots, scoring the two goals in the first 75 seconds of action.
Things never got much better for the District 7 runner-up. The Irish extended the lead to 10-2 by the break. Minutes into the second half, the running-clock rule was implemented with the Irish ahead by double digits.
“We definitely got off to a good start,” York Catholic coach Rob Linthicum said. “And I was real happy with that.”
Sydney Mentzer led YC with four goals, while teammate Kennedy Eckert tallied three in the triumph.
After coming off the program’s first-ever District 3 title last week, Linthicum knew his team was riding high. The YC coach, however, was unsure of what to expect from the District 7 No. 2 seed.
“Yeah, we didn’t really know too much about them,” he said. “But fortunately we were able to get off to that good start and put the pedal to the medal.”
Strath Haven 17, York Catholic 16: At Lower Merion High School, York Catholic's championship season came to a close with a PIAA Class 2-A first-round state loss.
The York-Adams League regular-season champions, coming off a third-place District 3 finish, ended at 18-3. District 1 runner-up Strath Haven improved to 14-8.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.