By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/19/08
These were idyllic conditions for a homecoming and a rare setting that brought a collegiate dynasty to the Philadelphia area.
The weather was perfect Sunday and the stadium at Radnor High was packed as North Carolina freshman Beth Ellis played on her high school field against the four-time defending national champion Northwestern Wildcats and fellow Philly product Colleen Magarity in a Fall Ball women’s game.
Magarity, a sophomore defender from Germantown Academy, saw lots of time and Northwestern claimed a 16-8 victory.
Ellis, the Phillylacrosse.com Co-Player of the Year last season for Radnor’s undefeated team, played the final 12 minutes at defense, a new position.
But more importantly, for both Ellis and Magarity – two friends and rivals who have played with and against each other many times – it was a chance to play in front of family and friends and against top-notch competition.
“It’s amazing,” said Ellis, a first-team All-American last year for the District 1 Class AAA champions (23-0). “The environment was surreal. I was playing on my old field, where we won the Central League, and I’m playing with my new college team. It was awesome.”
Magarity, a two-time All-American and member of the U.S. Under-19 National Team in 2007, played before a large group of family members.
“It’s a pretty large family and they’re all here,” Magarity said. “It’s fun to be back here and see old coaches and people I’ve played against.
“I saw other coaches I played against, and my high school coach (Ginny Hoffman) and some high school (teammates). It’s just fun to be back in the area; just two years ago I played here on this field in the Katie Samson Tournament.”
Magarity, in fact, played against Ellis and the Red Raiders in the Katie Samson Tournament. Magarity also played with Ellis for Radnor coach Phyllis Kilgour several times.
“She (Kilgour) actually coached me in a winter league and I was on a team with a bunch of Radnor girls,” Magarity said.
Last year, while Northwestern claimed its fourth straight Division I crown with a hard-fought victory over stubborn Penn, Magarity paid her dues as a reserve. She did play in 17 of the team’s 22 games, scoring once (against North Carolina). Mostly she played midfield, but lately she has been playing low defense.
“I am on one of the rotations on low defense,” Magarity said. “I started playing it last week and it’s been fun.”
Magarity said it’s been fun playing with a powerhouse. She knows she could be playing more somewhere else, but is content to be a contributor on a team that is stacked with talent and coached by Kelly Amonte Hiller, one of the most respected minds in lacrosse.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Magarity said. “The best part is practice every day. We’re all so competitive and practices are harder than the games.
“Then, when we come out to the games, it’s like fun. My decision to come here is one of the best I’ve ever made. I am playing for the best coaching staff and the best players in the country. I don’t care how much I play, I am learning so much.”
Ellis, who played a defensive midfield position at Radnor, is also learning a lot in her new role, low defense.
“It’s definitely an adjustment, but I feel like I am getting better all the time,” Ellis said. “I am learning a lot of new things.”
Ellis has also learned to handle the nuances of being a freshman at a major Division I program.
“I mean, that’s a given but it’s difficult at first and it’s hard to get used to all the new competitiveness,” she said. “But I mean as time passes it’s getting easier, and I’m getting more and more used to it.”
The Tar Heels, like the Wildcats, finished their Fall Ball season with this contest. These two teams, along with Penn and Syracuse played with host Princeton in a tournament Saturday.
How did North Carolina fare in the matchups against Northwestern? Overall, Ellis is happy.
“As a whole, we worked really hard in this game,” she said. “Last game we played them we didn’t do as well. But we improved a lot.”