Wetzel's return helps jolt Susquehannock boys' lacrosse into district semifinals
Jake Wetzel scored a hat trick in his first game of the season and the Warriors cruised past New Oxford, 20-9.
GLEN ROCK — The future appeared to be bright for Susquehannock boys’ lacrosse standout Jake Wetzel heading into his senior season. After helping the Warriors win the District 3 Class 2A title as a junior, Wetzel figured to play an even bigger role as his team looked to live up to lofty expectations in 2023.
Things took an unexpected, unfortunate turn for the senior in early February, though. Wetzel suffered a broken collarbone during a snowboarding accident, putting his chances of playing this spring in serious jeopardy.
“The doctor didn’t really have any hope at all,” Wetzel said of his initial diagnosis. “He really didn’t think I would be able to play at all.”
Fortunately for Wetzel, the initial timeline for recovery turned out to be overstated. His injury healed much more quickly than anticipated, which gave both Wetzel and his teammates a jolt of energy. They realized that the impossible was suddenly possible.
Just three weeks after being cleared to practice — and less than a week after being allowed to take contact — Wetzel was back on the field at Susquehannock High School for the team’s district quarterfinal clash with York-Adams League peer New Oxford on Friday evening.
The midfielder's return was not just for show, either, as he collected three goals to go with an assist to lead his team to a 20-9 victory.
Susquehannock, the No. 2 seed in the bracket, will host Lampeter-Strasburg in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday after improving to 15-3 on the season with Friday's win. The Warriors won the District 3 title a year ago against the Pioneers.
“It felt great,” Wetzel said of his first goal of the year. “It was just awesome to be out there.”
Just a few months earlier, Wetzel was grappling with the notion that his senior season would be shelved entirely due to his accident. But he kept his hopes high and did everything he could to feel like a contributor to the team.
“I’ve been helping to coach the younger guys a bit,” Wetzel said. “Just sharing pointers with the guys that had to step in a fill my spot.”
Wetzel finally got the news that he was hoping to hear in early May.
“The healing was just progressing and we were starting to see the results,” Wetzel said. “And my doctor just told me that it was looking much better. I was just hoping and thanked God that I was able to get back and play.”
Seeing Wetzel on the field was a sight for sore eyes, as his teammates and coaches all reveled in the moment.
“My teammates and the coaches were just very supportive all the way,” Wetzel said. “They were all great.”
Wetzel and the Warriors know they will need to be great again if they want to defend their district title. Lampeter-Strasburg own a victory this season over Dallastown, the York-Adams regular-season champs who handled the Susky boys when those teams clashed in late April.
“It’s going to be a tough battle,” Wetzel said. “But it’s my senior year and we’re all excited and we are looking to make a strong run to the finish.”
Game notes: The Colonials, who dropped a 20-2 contest during the regular season to Susquehannock, kept things close in the first period. The Warriors led just 4-2 after one period, but a 10-goal outburst in the second-quarter, which included a nine-goal spurt over the final 7:36 of the half, all but put the contest away.
Doug Reinecke and Dom Eckels led the Warriors with four goals apiece, while Daniel Kaliszak joined Wetzel with a hat trick in the triumph.
Ryan Carver led the Colonials (10-7) with three goals, while Jarret Bitzer and Jake Ward each scored twice.