Hot First Half Leads Spartans to CAC Title Game for First Time

YORK, Pa – The #11 York College women's lacrosse team advances to the championship game of the 2012 Capital Athletic Conference Tournament after registering a 9-6 victory against #13 Mary Washington on Tuesday in the semifinal round of the league playoffs. The Spartan triumph extends their overall record to 14-3 as their 14th win of the season sets a new program record for victories in a single season. The Eagles' loss drops them to 13-4 on the season as the Eagles must now wait to see if they earn an NCAA At-Large bid.

The Green and White came out of the gates firing as they connected with the back of the net three times in the first seven minutes of the game. Kim Wayson provided two of the three opening salvos with sophomore Erica Mulford adding the other unassisted goal.

Mary Washington briefly slowed the Spartan attack with a goal at the 22:28 mark of the first half to bring the game to 3-1. Undaunted, York responded in just 30 seconds as Wayson notched her third goal of the game. Katie Vautier snagged the ensuing draw control, raced toward York's attacking end, and found Wayson who knifed in for the tally. Wayson's goal sparked another Spartan run as they notched three more consecutive tallies to extend their lead to 7-1.  Kerri Nicolich's two goals during that second run aided the Spartan attack.

York capitalized on seven of their first nine possessions in the first half strongly due to several great individual efforts. Both teams scored a single goal in the last fifteen minutes of the first half as York took an 8-2 lead to the break.

The Eagle squad started the second half looking to quickly slice into the Spartan advantage. The guests tallied four consecutive goals during the first 18 minutes of the second half, cutting the Spartan lead to just 8-6. Catherine Kennedy, Maggie Nunn, and Jenna Petrucelli led the Eagle surge.

With that Spartans facing the adversity of the Mary Washington run, Nicolich was able to break York's 25-minute scoring drought by connecting with the back of the net. Nicolich's goal came on a free-position shot that extended the Spartans' lead to 9-6 with five minutes remaining.

Leading by three with time ticking down, Spartan goalkeeper Kelsey Evans made two consecutive saves on shots from Kennedy, who sports the second-most goals in the CAC this season. Evans stoned a Kennedy free-position shot with 2:38 left to play before registering a second save just 12 ticks later to keep the game at 9-6 York.

York led the game with 15 groundballs and 10 draw controls while the Eagles posted nine and seven, respectively. Leah Schultz notched a game-high six draw controls for the Green and White. York's 8-2 first half lead was due in large part to the Spartans' effectiveness in winning the draw.

Wayson and Nicolich each posted three goals while Schultz tallied twice and Mulford added one to her season total. Evans provided the team with five saves.

Kennedy and Petrucelli contributed for four of Mary Washington's six goals. Goalkeeper Kathryn Stiltz recorded six saves for the Eagles.

Aside from their program-record-setting 14th win of the season, the Spartans also make their first trip to the CAC Tournament Championship contest. York is slated to travel to Maryland's eastern shore to take on #1 Salisbury, who topped #19 Stevenson 9-4 in the other semifinal, for the CAC title on Saturday, April 28. Check back to www.ycpspartans.com for game time information.

PHOTO: Kim Wayson with the ball during York's CAC Tournament semifinal victory over Mary Washington on Tuesday. Courtesy of Theresa Dark - York College (Pa.) Athletic Communications Student Photographer.

Game story courtesy of Travis Bowman - York College (Pa.) Athletic Communications Practicum Student.