The boys slate at the Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival was, by and large, pretty darn good.
The girls slate Saturday at KSF was absolutely fantastic, though, and that’s why it took center stage. There were quite a few games that may very well have served as playoff previews. Harriton dealt Great Valley its first loss of the year. Not Delco, sure, but very important in the District One slate of things. Anyway, onto the Delco side of things…
Strath Haven bounces back
…from a loss to Radnor only two days earlier. The Panthers did so in style, clocking Episcopal Academy, 13-7. As you can read in the main story, Kathryn Restrepo was the star of the Haven show with five goals, but the Panthers’ win had as much to do with what went on at the other end.
A disclaimer: EA played without the services of its top goal scorer in MC Curran (ankle injury) and leading assist provider Lynda Michaels (torn ACL – out for the year), so that would slow anyone’s offense down. But Haven still played a tremendous defensive game with the defense being led by Lily Kovach and Jess Borbee. You’ll remember Borbee as a do-it-all All-Delco for the Panthers’ field hockey team and against the Churchmen, she stood out defensively.
Kovach, though, was even better. The junior was in the thick of things for the Panthers and was a big reason why EA couldn’t get many clean looks at Hallie Yancey (11 saves). It’s easy to see why coach Rachel Busza is so bullish on Kovach’s talents. The Michigan verbal can keep pace with anyone and she understands body positioning very well and she’s a big part of a stingy Panthers defense.
“We really wanted to come back and have strong D,” Kovach said. “We had strong D Tuesday (an 11-10 win over Conestoga) and Thursday (a 6-5 loss to Radnor) and we wanted to finish the week with a really good defensive set.”
Speaking of those Red Raiders…
I just checked. Yep. Still a really good team. The 18-10 bludgeoning of Notre Dame was surprising, though. I thought Radnor would win. I did not think it would score 18 goals, though ND hasn’t exactly been a defensive stalwart this year. The Irish love to try to get into shootouts with the opposition. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It didn’t Saturday.
The win came two days after a crucial victory over Strath Haven, so Radnor is hot heading into tomorrow’s showdown with Springfield. To hear Brooke Pancoast speak after the win over the Panthers, though, it’s almost like some pushed the Red Raiders aside after a few tough league losses to Conestoga and Harriton.
“(The Haven win) was huge for us because we fell behind with our last two losses,” said Pancoast, who scored twice and set up another in the rout of the Irish. “It just put us right back into the competition. People can be intimidated by us again. It’s huge.”
“I did think we lost (the intimidation factor). People started getting the wrong impression of us, that we weren’t a top team anymore. We definitely are and I think that this showed that. I think in the next coming games that we’ll keep showing that.
Point proven by lighting up ND for 18 goals. The reigning District One champions always have a target on their backs, and according to Pancoast, that’s not a bad thing.
“It definitely motivated us because we’re so used to being on top,” Pancoast said, “and I feel like people felt like we were down. All it did was make us want to be better again.”
Agnes Irwin is going to be a serious problem
I specifically made it out to Radnor early to make sure I saw the Owls play and I’m glad I did. The 12-10 win over Abington was a nice touch for this year, but it’s hard not to imagine what this team will be like in the near future. Kristin Burnetta was one freshman who was hard to miss against the Ghosts. She only scored four goals. That’s all. Burnetta is part of a really, really talented freshman group at AIS that has already started to change the perception of the program.
Here’s the scariest part. The Owls will only get better. Most of their starters are freshmen or eighth-graders and the team is already competitive. Couple that with coach Jen Duckenfield being one of the most-respected coaching figures around and you’ve got a recipe for success. Duckenfield indicated that recruiting (OH MY GOD YES THE INTER-AC RECRUITS!!! PANIC IN THE STREETS!) is going quite well for the Owls and there’s a strong foundation for future players to join.
““It’s been a growing year for us,” Burnetta said. “We make mistakes, but it’s just kind of based on being young and kind of inexperienced. We’ve all really grown as a team and we’re all learning from the more experienced seniors. … It’s also a goal to be the big senior team, but we go in with confidence knowing that we can compete (with the Inter-Ac) knowing that we’re four years younger than them.”
“I love it,” fellow freshman Emily Fryer said. “We know we can only get better in the future. We have a lot of good chemistry together. … Everyone’s close in age, so it’s fun.”
It won’t be for the rest of the Inter-Ac and anyone who wants to play AIS pretty soon.
Random assorted tidbits
I’ve racked my brain (It didn’t take very long) and I can’t think of a more dynamic duo in the county than the Patriots’ Taryn Deck and Natalie Schmitt. Each had four goals in a close loss to Conestoga – click the earlier link also found here for comments on that one – and they’re both top-notch talents. Deck seems to have found a new confidence this year after transferring from Radnor and Schmitt is holding onto her status as one of the best athletes in the county. Together, they’re a big reason why Carroll is right in the mix with the Central League elites for the status of best in the state.
Whoever decided to schedule Haverford’s prom right before KSF probably wasn’t paying too close attention. It didn’t matter, though. Nikki Harnwell continued her recent strong play with 19 saves and Amanda Case had six points just because in a rout of Penn Charter. Garnet Valley only gave up one second-half goal in a 9-5 win over Mount St. Joseph. All-Delco Coley Ricci and Molly Savage came in for lofty praise from coach Jenny Purvis for their defensive work. Rachael Dickerson, Lauren Huggins and Caroline Nichols combined for 15 goals and seven assists in a one-goal loss to Springside Chestnut Hill. Losing effort? Sure. Wow factor? Absolutely.
– MATT CHANDIK