YAIAA lacrosse championships: How two teams earned titles in long-awaited rematches

·7 min read

The YAIAA lacrosse championships were played for the first time since 2019 Friday night. COVID canceled the last two league tournaments ― taking away the entire season in 2020 and then the league playoffs due to scheduling issues last year.

York Catholic girls' and Central York boys' teams earned gold medals in highly anticipated rematches.

Here's how the two teams earned titles.

York Catholic rolls past Susquehannock for title

When York Catholic beat Susquehannock by 10 goals earlier this season, Irish head coach Rob Linthicum said the two teams were closer than the score indicated.

Prior to Friday’s YAIAA title game, he said he expected the matchup to be closer.

Instead, York Catholic rolled to a 14-3 win over the Warriors at Susquehannock.

It was the Irish’s first league title since 2014. York Catholic lost in the league title game in 2019 and would have been the favorite the past two seasons if it was played.

“I’m still in shock,” York Catholic senior Sydney Mentzer said. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet. We definitely felt the pressure. I’m just excited.”

The key moment

York Catholic took control of the game in the back half of the first half.

After taking a quick 2-0 lead, the Irish gave up consecutive goals. The Warriors were excited and seemed to be gaining confidence.

Then York Catholic scored five straight goals to close the half ― with three coming from Mentzer. The last one came with 15 seconds left in the half and seemed to deflate the Warriors.

The game was never close after halftime.

“(Susquehannock) came out on fire, and we were a little sloppy,” Rob Linthicum said. “It took a little to get our groove going. Once we did it was back to usual.”

The stars

Mentzer led York Catholic with five goals and two assists. Katie Bullen also recorded a hat trick.

Olivia Staples (two goals, two assists) and Grace Doyle (two goals, two assists)

Rachel Stiffler scored twice for Susquehannock.

What they had to say

“We play club with most of them. So it’s kind of a little rivalry. But it’s all fun and games. They’re a great team. I guess it’s just a change of mindset. We came out fast and for games like this we show up. Everything just clicks.”

Sydney Mentzer

“It was really sad for the girls who lost their whole season in 2020 because of COVID. So last year they were happy just to be on the field and be outside and play. But to not have a championship series in that year added a level of disappointment. So this is great. You can see how much excitement the kids get out of a game like this. There’s nothing like it.”

Rob Linthicum

What’s next?

York Catholic (19-1) is the No. 2 seed while Susquehannock (15-2) is the No. 3 seed in the District 3 Class 2A playoffs. Both have byes into the quarterfinals, which are next Wednesday.

York Catholic will host the winner of Palmyra (12-6) and Trinity (10-7). Susquehannock will play the winner of Wyomissing (12-5) and Eastern York (10-7).

The Irish and Warriors will face each other in the semifinals in they both win in the quarterfinals.

York Catholic is looking to win its third consecutive District 3 title. But looming on the other side of the bracket is Twin Valley (17-1) – the team that handed the Irish its only loss. York Catholic lost to Twin Valley, 17-7, on March 30.

“We’ve gotten a lot better but that Twin Valley team is really, really good. I haven’t seen a team like that at the high school level in a long time,” Linthicum said. “If we’re fortunate enough to get to the final and play them, I think we’d give them a better game than the first time around.”

Central York 'explodes' for another league title

The Central York boys' lacrosse team poses for a photo after beating Susquehannock, 10-4, for the YAIAA title on May 13, 2022.
The Central York boys' lacrosse team poses for a photo after beating Susquehannock, 10-4, for the YAIAA title on May 13, 2022.

It was expected to go down to the wire.

That's how the last game went ― Susquehannock outlasting Central York, 10-9, in overtime to remain undefeated on the season and hand the Panthers their only loss.

And it's how Friday's game started with a back-and-forth first half.

Ultimately, Central York stormed past Susquehannock, 10-4, to capture the YAIAA boys' lacrosse title Friday at Susquehannock.

It was the Panthers third YAIAA title in the past four years the tournament has been played. The Panthers won the 2019 title and captured the regular season title last season. They lost the championship match in 2018 and won in 2017.

"It's a nice little run we've had," Central York coach Ryan Muller. "When you go against a good team you never know what's going to happen. When you have a lot of good players it takes time sometimes. This game is a lot about momentum. Last time they had the momentum in the second half. This time we got it and didn't look back."

The key moment

Central York outscored Susquehannock 5-0 during a stunning third quarter that turned a close game into a blowout.

The Panthers struggled offensively early and trailed 1-0 after the first quarter. They scored four goals in the final 5:09 of the second quarter, with two coming from Jimmy Kohr and two coming from Cam Diehl to take a 4-3 halftime lead.

But the Panthers and Muller agreed that the most important stretch of the game was the opening minutes of the third quarter.

Johnny Nagy scored just over a minute into the quarter. Then Kohr scored back-to-back goals. Then Diehl added a goal. Then Dayton Bagwell added one.

It took place in 6:15. Susquehannock didn't score again until the 4:42 mark on the fourth quarter.

Central's FOGO (face-off, get-off) Brian McGarvey was extremely vital during that stretch.

"We really didn't change strategy, we just started trusting each other on offense," Kohr said. "In a big game it's hard to settle into an offense. There's nerves with a big crowd. In the third quarter we started clicking. We really did explode in the third quarter. I think it was our best quarter all year."

The stars

Kohr had four goals and an assist. Diehl had three goals.

Ben Tomasic and Jake Wetzel had two goals each for Susquehannock. Goalie Nick Blucher had 11 saves.

What they had to say

"We didn't play a good first half and we were still leading. So we had all the confidence in ourselves. We need to keep playing our game and trusting each other. Same thing we did all year and this game. If we play this way we think we can beat anyone."

Jimmy Kohr

"It was a scary moment for the entire team and it was nice to rally around him tonight. The kids love him. He's a huge part of the team. I think he's the best defender in the league."

Ryan Muller on junior defender Sam Czech, who suffered a concussion in Wednesday's semifinal win. Central York chanted Czech's name after the win. Muller hopes to have Czech back for the District 3 playoffs.

What's next?

Susquehannock (18-1) is the No. 1 seed in the District 3 Class 2A playoffs and will host either Berks Catholic or Schuylkill Valley in the quarterfinals next Thursday. Susquehannock lost in the District 3 title game last year.

Central York (18-1) in the No. 2 seed in the District 3 Class 3A playoffs and will host Red Lion and Penn Manor next Friday. The Panthers lost in the District 3 semifinals last season.

"The one thing we've learned the past couple years is you can be a great team but you need a little luck in this game," Muller said. "Last year we beat Hempfield in the regular season and lost to them in the semis. We've proven we're one of those top four teams every year. Now it's taken the next step. We're hoping this year is a little different."

Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, mallibone@ydr.com or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.

This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Central York boys, York Catholic girls lacrosse teams earn YAIAA titles