By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/17/08
Radnor co-captains Kelly Barnes and Beth Ellis were confident that positive team chemistry would be a key to this year’s team.
“We didn’t really click well last year for whatever reason and we lost unexpectedly (in the first round of districts),” said Barnes. “We kind of used that as an example and took that anger into the season.”
“We went out this year with a refuse-to-lose attitude. Our team chemistry grew every day and the friendships grew every day.”
With Barnes and Ellis leading the way, Radnor clearly did refuse to lose. The Red Raiders went 23-0 and capped their season by rallying from an early five-goal deficit to defeat Bayard Rustin, 15-11, for the District One Class AAA championship.
Barnes and Ellis each won a slew of honors in 2008, including first-team All-American honors as midfielders. But the only thing that mattered to the Phillylacrosse.com Girls’ co-Players of the Year was helping the Raiders reach their goals.
Ellis said the team bonded together immediately when head coach Phyllis Kilgour and new assistant Brooke Fritz brought in a professional team morale builder to assist in the process.
“From the first day we stepped onto the turf for tryouts, we knew that we didn’t want to have what happened last year, happen again,” Ellis said. “Right from the start we came mentally prepared for the season.
“We had a man come and do activities with us about team building and team bonding. From the underclassmen on up, we felt so close to them and we knew every little thing about them. There was no separation on the team; it was complete unity.
“The talent was there – the talent was there last year.”
The Raiders established themselves very quickly. In the season’s first game, they crushed defending District One Class AAA champion West Chester East, 21-0.
The win gave Kilgour her 500th career victory. The players also dedicated the win to the memory of long-time fan and supporter Brian Early, the father of senior leader Molly Early. Brian died last November in a plane crash.
“There was a lot going on that first game,” Ellis said. “And we played the defending state champions. We gave everything on the field that day and basically proved to everyone and ourselves that this season was going to be special.”
It was indeed a magical season for Barnes and Ellis. Barnes finished with 54 goals, 50 assists and 60 draw controls and was the only Philadelphia-area player named to the Under Armour All-American team.
Barnes also was an Academic All-American pick and earned MVP honors at the Senior All-Star game at the US Lacrosse National Tournament in Towson, Md. She will attend Georgetown University on a scholarship.
Ellis collected 60 goals, 26 assists and 62 draw controls while earning a scholarship to North Carolina. Despite their all-around talents, their job was to help blend into a team that had many stars.
“There was a lot of hype going on at the beginning,” Ellis said. “We just focused on our team and not any individuals.
“There were a lot of things this year that, I guess, taught us lessons much bigger than lacrosse,” Barnes added, noting the team also had to deal with the season-ending injury to senior Kelly Connors. “We all grew a lot. (The loss of Brian Early) was a huge tragedy, not only to Molly, but the whole community. I think we grew from that experience and it drew our team together.”
Kilgour said Barnes and Ellis kept the rest of the Raiders grounded.
“These kids never got a big head,” Kilgrour said. “Molly said their motto was ‘Confident, not cocky.’ I thought that was a great motto.
“Kelly Barnes got all those accolades. Every time she got an honor, it was never about Kelly, always about the rest of the team and everybody around them. That transmitted to everybody else.”
The true test of Radnor’s resilience occurred in the championship game when underdog Bayard Rustin raced to a 5-0 lead in the first five minutes of play and totally dominated the early draws.
The only other time Radnor had faced any deficit was in its mid-season victory over eventual Class AA champion Springfield-Delco.
“Honestly, I think we were all scared,.” Barnes said of the 5-0 hole. “But we brought it in right after the fifth goal and huddled together. We knew we were better than how we were playing.
“Not much was said. We looked at each other and gave a head nod. We actually smiled and I think that’s what we needed. It was like, ‘Let’s go! We know we can do better than this.’
“I’ve said it before. I couldn’t’ have written a better script of how I wanted the season to be. Obviously, winning without a loss… and the fact we were actually down by five says a lot about the character of the team.”
Concluded Ellis: “It was the most unbelievable season I’ve ever had in my life, in any sport. You can’t ask for anything more than to win the league, be undefeated all the way through and win the district or state championship. It was the most unbelievable thing and I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life.”
Honorable Mention Player of the Year: Emily Garrity (Strath Haven), Maggie Tamasitis (Boyertown), Allison Tatios (Bayard Rustin), Kim Wenger (Great Valley).