By Adam C. Warner
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/20/09
After pulling out a wild, one-goal victory over Strath Haven to clinch the Central League title back on May 6, Sam Ellis and the Radnor girls’ lacrosse team knew Round 2 would be another knock-down, drag-out affair.
However, in Tuesday’s rematch, the Red Raiders remained unfazed despite another second half spurt by the Panthers. With Ellis leading the charge, Radnor turned back a four-goal run by Strath Haven and embarked on a seven-goal burst of its own en route to a 20-11 victory in the District 1 girls’ semifinals at West Chester East.
The victory sends top-seeded Radnor (21-0 overall) into the District 1 championship game on Thursday night against fellow Central League foe Springfield-Delco, the No. 3 seed. The contest is slated for 8 p.m. at Marple Newtown High. Springfield dispatched Bayard Rustin in the other semifinal at East, 13-3.
“I knew our team could go this far and I am so proud of us right now,” said Ellis, a senior, who finished with a game-high 11 points on nine goals. “Just the fact that we could come out and get such sweet redemption like this after that one-goal win, it’s just so nice. We knew we were the better team and we had to play like it. Today, we did.”
The Raiders stormed out to a 9-2 lead midway through the first half thanks in part to success on draw controls (they won 13 of 19 in first half), execution on offense and a pesky defense often forcing Strath Haven (17-4) into turnovers. Meanwhile, with her aggressive drives and crafty shots in traffic, Ellis was nearly unstoppable on the offensive end and tallied five first half goals, including four before the 10-minute mark.
But similar to the matchup on May 6, the Panthers found success late. Commencing with a score by Ana White with 5:49 to go in the first half, Strath Haven went on a 5-2 run to close out the first half and make the score 11-7.
Strath Haven quickly built off of its success early in the second by scoring two goals at the start of the second half to cut its deficit to two. Annalise Penikis, who finished with a team-high five goals, notched both tallies to make it 11-9.
But instead of folding and letting the Panthers back into the contest, Radnor turned on its afterburners.
Ellis had a part in the next six goals for Radnor and helped her squad take a commanding 17-9 lead with 6:18 to play. After allowing the opening two scores of the half, the Raiders went on a 7-0 run to turn a tight contest into a comfortable margin. Ellis scored four goals and added two assists during the run while teammate Allie Martin added three goals of her own.
“I think the girls were determined to do it,” Radnor coach Phyllis Kilgour said. “We got the jump a couple weeks ago against Strath Haven and the girls knew we could get that spread again. And once they got it, they weren’t willing to give it up.”
Courtney Campbell finished with four scores for the Raiders while Kelyn Freedman and Ali Kelly scored two goals apiece.
Emily Garrity ended up with four goals and three assists for the Panthers as teammate Lela Meunier notched seven saves in goal.
“Strath Haven is one of our toughest competitors all season,” Ellis said. “The Central League is such a tough league to play in and our district is one of the toughest. It’s just great to know that we can accomplish this and beat a great team like them. It really proves to everyone what kind of team we are.”
Radnor 20, Strath Haven 11
Strath Haven 7 4 – 11
Radnor 11 9 – 20
Strath Haven goals: A. Penikis 5, E. Garrity 4, A. White, J. Hayward.
Radnor goals: S. Ellis 9, C. Campbell 4, A. Martin 3, K. Freedman 2, A. Kelly 2.
Goalie saves: Meunier (SH) 7; Woehling (R) 8.
Springfield-Delco 13, Bayard Rustin 3
Behind the formidable trio of Madison Poplawski, Samantha Tulskie and Shannon Burns, third-seeded Springfield-Delco put forth one of its best all-around performances of the season in arguably the year’s biggest spot.
With its offense clicking and stifling defense forcing seventh-seeded Bayard Rustin into turnovers and bad passes, the Cougars advanced to the finals to meet Radnor. Poplawski, Tulskie and Burns combined for 10 goals and four assists on the day and were instrumental in all phases of the game.
“I thought we dominated in most phases of the game today,” Springfield coach Keith Broome said. “Once we settled offensively, we had good scoring chances. And I think we came out right at the beginning ready to play. We had possession for the first six minutes of the game and had five shots before Rustin even got the ball. Rustin is a good team and came back, but it was really a nice team win for us.”
After flying out of the gates with two scores, the Cougars (20-2 overall) allowed back-to-back scores by Rustin (18-3) before notching four of the next five goals to take a 7-3 lead into intermission.
With momentum on its side, Springfield continued its inspired play for the remainder of the second half and prevented a typically explosive Rustin team from finding the back of the net for the rest of the day. Rustin had scored in double figures in its last five games, including a 13-12 overtime win over previously unbeaten North Penn.
“We are really excited to be in the district championship,” said Poplawski, who finished with three goals and two assists and was a key force on draw controls (7-for-11 overall in the first half) for the Cougars. “We worked on draws a lot in practice and we were all in the circle getting draws today and it made a big difference. We could then bring it up into the attacking end and possess the ball.”
Leana Brewer, Tori Dugan and Abbie Brewer led the way for the Golden Knights offensively while Kelsey Sward was a defensive standout with 10 saves in goal.
Springfield-Delco 13, Bayard Rustin 3
Bayard Rustin 3 0 – 3
Springfield-Delco 7 6 – 13
Rustin goals: L. Brewer, T. Dugan, A. Brewer.
Springfield goals: S. Burns 4, S. Tulskie 3, M. Poplawski 3, M. Lynch, L. Kennedy, J. Mahon.
Goalie saves: Sward (R) 10; Folkomer (S) 4.