Before Garnet Valley showed up on the block winning state titles, Radnor had proven itself as the elite program in the state.
The Red Raiders claimed the first two PIAA titles and nearly made it back to the state final after a one-year hiatus before it fell to Garnet Valley by a goal in last year’s state semifinal.
Ask around, though, and it seems like Radnor is a trendy pick to make yet another run to Hershey. Even though the Red Raiders lost the likes of All-Delco and All-American Natalie Miller to Georgetown and another talented scorer in Taryn Deck (transfer to Archbishop Carroll), among others, coach Brooke Fritz has more than enough talent to help the Red Raiders navigate through a daunting schedule.
One of the biggest reasons to like Radnor is the embarrassment of riches on the defensive end of things. Senior captains Abby Junior (William & Mary) and Lyndsey Britton (Georgetown) just might be the best defensive duo in the county. Britton narrowly missed out on All-Delco honors a year ago and figures to be in the running for the title of the county’s best defender, but the biggest adjustment, though, has been having the Red Raiders play less 1 on 1 defense and work more as a cohesive unit.
“We can get a lot better on defense,” Fritz said. “All of our defenders are returning and we’re throwing in a couple of different defenses. We’re pushing them to work more as a unit instead of individual 1 v. 1 defense and we’re good enough to be able to do it. Abby’s a great communicator and she’ll be our quarterback back there.”
Joining Britton and Junior on defense will be sophomores Hannah Proctor and Lindsay Frumer, plus senior Brooke Pancoast (Michigan). Proctor started a year ago and has plenty of experience for a sophomore and Fritz likes the trio’s speed and footwork. Junior’s younger sister, Katie, is another sophomore that could see time.
“Both Lindsay and Katie have outstanding footwork and they’re scrappy little kids,” Fritz said. “They’ve got that older sister, little sister dynamic, but they’re all really good friends. Our team unity is so much more apparent than it has been. I noticed a difference in leadership from our seniors and unity with the sophomores. Our defense will win us a couple of games.”
In even better news for Fritz, Radnor brings back a star in the making in goal with senior Grace Collins (Michigan). The future Wolverine shared time with Colleen Packer (Columbia) last year, but she’s the uncontested starter this season. Collins’ style is best described as unorthodox, but she has a knack for making key saves and will definitely push for All-Delco honors.
“Grace’s strength is really vocally leading the defense with Abby,” Fritz said. “She’s coming up with interceptions and ground balls that aren’t necessarily what you ask of a high school goalie. She has a couple of habits that we need to break, but she’ll be OK. Goalie will be a strength of ours, not a weakness.”
Someone’s going to have to score goals, though, but the Red Raiders have that covered. Senior twin sisters Shannon (William & Mary) and Taylor Quinn (Columbia) will undoubtedly fill up the stat sheet in a hurry. Shannon Quinn had an incredible postseason for Radnor last year, one where she seemed to score every big goal for the Red Raiders.
“Both Shannon and Taylor are always in the right place at the right time and they anticipate the play better than anyone,” Fritz said. “Shannon will be able to create more rather than pass it to Natalie like she did last year and we’re going to be able to freelance a lot more than we’ve ever been able to.”
Miller’s speed and athleticism made her as lethal a scoring option as almost anyone last year, but it sounds like this year’s team will be a little bit more balanced. Junior Sara Curley (Dartmouth), senior Sydney Cowles (Bates) and sophomore Kaelee Helms will be asked to keep goalies occupied.
There’s the always daunting Central League slate, where the Red Raiders will be one of the favorites, and there’s the nonleague schedule that Fritz dubbed “impossible” to make sure Radnor is ready for the postseason. Local opponents like Archbishop Carroll, Notre Dame and Episcopal Academy, in addition to nonleague powers like Hatboro-Horsham, Rumson-Fair Haven, Georgetown Visitation (D.C.) and California state champion Carondelet, will keep the Red Raiders sharp.
Will it be enough to add to the hardware collection?
– MATT CHANDIK