By Adam C. Warner
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/27/09
On Tuesday night, Madison Poplawski and the Springfield-Delco Cougars proved their moxie despite facing arguably their toughest challenge yet.
After rallying her team from an early six-goal deficit and then again in the final minutes, Poplawski scored the game-winning score with one minute and 57 seconds left in the first overtime period to lift Springfield-Delco to a thrilling 14-13 victory over Boyertown in the first round of the inaugural Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) girls’ lacrosse playoffs at West Chester East.
With the win, the District 1 champion Cougars (22-2 overall) have a quarterfinal showdown on Saturday against fellow District 1 foe Unionville, fresh off of a 15-4 victory over Southern Lehigh. The site and time of the game will be determined today.
“We just needed to get the ball in the back of the net,” said Poplawski, who finished with four goals. “The previous game against Radnor was big, but if we lost this game, we would have been done. We didn’t want to end it here.”
Boyertown (19-4-1), the seventh-place finisher from District 1, took a 13-11 lead with 6:46 to play after scores by Austerberry and Sam Mazzie. But the Cougars sent it into overtime when Poplawski and Sam Tulskie (five goals) scored to tie the game at 13-13.
In the extra session, the Cougars claimed the opening draw control but both teams traded possessions before Springfield took the ball back and prepared for its attack on goal. Poplawski quickly corralled the ball and sprinted around several Boyertown defenders before drawing contact and a free position attempt.
After the whistle, Poplawski sprinted towards Boyertown goalie Lindsay Clinton and released a powerful shot that found the back of the net, sending her squad to the PIAA quarterfinals for the very first time.
“We needed this as a team,” Springfield head coach Keith Broome said. “Boyertown came ready to play. They dominated the draw and caused problems on the draw the entire night. Nobody deserved to lose that game.”
Poplawski (four) and Tulskie (five) combined for nine of Springfield’s 14 total goals. Meanwhile, Emily Austerberry and Sam Mazzie each notched four goals for the Bears while Lindsay Clinton stopped 13 shots.
Early on, it certainly looked like the Cougars’ season was headed for an abrupt end after Boyertown stormed out to a 7-1 lead with 8:00 to go in the first half. Emily Austerberry (four goals) and Sarah Bennett (three) combined for five first-half goals for the Bears and showed mastery around the crease.
But the Cougars got back to playing its game by winning the majority of draw controls the rest of the way and being aggressive on both ends of the field. Fueled by three goals from Tulskie, Springfield went on a 6-0 run to close out the first half and make the score 7-7 heading into intermission.
“I was nervous when we were down big early,” said Poplawski, “But everyone just did the little things and we brought it back up to tempo.”
Despite the loss, Boyertown head coach Pam Wernersbach kept her head held high after an inspiring performance, arguably the best all-around game of the campaign for the Bears and one of the most thrilling contest of the girls’ lacrosse season in Pennsylvania.
“I am really proud of my kids,” Wernersbach said. “They saved their best game for the last game of the season. We had nothing to lose and that’s exactly how the girls approached this game. They knew that nobody expected them to do anything and they really wanted to pull off the upset. It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to.”
Springfield-Delco 14, Boyertown 13, OT
Boyertown 7-6-0 – 13
Springfield-Delco 7-6 -1– 14
Boyertown goals: Emily Austerberry 4, Sam Mazzie 4, Sarah Bennett 3, Lyndsey Babilon 1, Raelynn Mikell 1.
Springfield-Delco goals: Sam Tulskie 5, Madison Poplawski 4, Shannon Burns 1, Valerie Paolucci 1, Courtney Kennedy 1, Lindsey Kennedy 1, Maddy Lynch 1.
Goalie saves: Lindsay Clinton (B) 13; Janal Folkomer (S) 5.