By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/11/10
They have dominated the Philly lacrosse scene for many years, both in the Central League and in district and state play.
Tomorrow at HersheyPark Stadium (noon), rivals Radnor and Springfield-Delco will meet for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) championship. The game will be televised at 4 p.m. on tape delay on the PA Cable Network. Log onto Phillylacrosse.com for real-time updates.
The matchup is a classic one for PA lacrosse followers.
Defending champion Radnor is 25-1 and ranked No. 1 in the state, according to the PA Media Rankings. The Red Raiders have gone an amazing 74-2 the past three years, and have a senior-laden team that features numerous Division I recruits.
Before last year, the District 1 champion was considered the state champion by most lacrosse followers. Radnor won the Class AAA (large-school) title in 2008 when it went 25-0 and also claimed the district crowns in 2001 and 2003 at the AAA level and in 1999 and 2000 when it competed at the Class AA level.
Springfield-Delco is 23-2 and ranked No. 2 in the state. The Cougars shared the Central League crown with Radnor and Strath Haven this season and have gone a remarkable 85-8 during the past four years.
Springfield-Delco also has been a dominant force in District 1 play. Until this year the Cougars had won four straight District 1 crowns; defeating Radnor in last year’s District 1 championship and winning the Class AA (small-school) title the three previous seasons. Springfield-Delco also won the Class AA district titles in 2003 and 2004 and fell to Radnor in the finals in 1999 and 2000 as well as to Great Valley in 2002.
This year the games between Radnor and Springfield-Delco have been gems.
The Cougars seized a 6-0 first-half lead when the teams met in the regular season, but the Raiders stormed back in the second half and won it, 8-7. When they met again for the District 1 crown – in a game that was suspended early in the first half due to lightning and continued the following afternoon – Springfield-Delco again took a lead and held a 6-4 edge early in the second half until the Raiders tallied the final four goals of the game to win, 8-6.
“We had the lead in both games,” said Springfield-Delco coach Broome, whose team advanced to the finals with as 14-4 triumph over Manheim Township on Tuesday. “We just have to finish. They finished both games. We know we’re capable of beating them; we just have to believe in ourselves.”
Broome admitted his team has perhaps exceeded expectations by reaching the state finals after losing All-American Maddy Poplawski (who started this year at highly-ranked Penn) and several other key seniors to graduation.
“To be honest, as we were driving back from the Manhiem game we talked about how amazing it is that we were able to get to this point in the season,” said Broome. “We graduated (Sam) Tulskie and (Michelle) Conway and Maddy Pops and we’re really excited to be where we are.”
Radnor, meanwhile, was clearly the favorite to win the state crown at the outset of the season. The Raiders have 10 Division I recruits on the roster and feature three players – Kelyn Freedman, Allie Martin and Alyssa Dunlap – that were all-Americans last year.
But the Raiders were dealt a jolt in April when they fell to Strath Haven, dropping them into third place in the Central League standings and giving them their first regular-season loss in two years. After that, they refocused.
“It definitely was a shock; we were not expecting to lose that early on,” said Martin. “It made us realize we are not a team that can come out every game and blow teams out of the water, We’ve definitely been coming out strong since then.”
In the PIAA tourney, Radnor has been dominant, winning big over North Penn (10-4), Downingtown East (20-12) and third-ranked Unionville (23-14). In the win over Unionville Tuesday in the semis, Radnor used a 9-0 run in the first half to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 12-4 lead.
“We’ve definitely come together as a team and worked out the kinks,” said Dunlap. “We just have some unfinished business.”
Besides Freedman (signed with Georgetown) and Martin (Penn), Radnor has relied on the scoring of seniors Courtney Campbell (Richmond), Ali Kelly (Franklin & Marshall), Amalia Antonoplos (Franklin & Marshall) and Ellis Kraus (Vanderbilt). The defense features seniors Dunlap (Vanderbilt), Allison Heath (Monmouth), Andrea Fedlman (Bucknell) and Lindsay Pancoast and junior Leah Gallagher (Notre Dame). Junior goalie Annie Woehling has been a standout in the cage.
The Copugars overcame major challenges from Strath Haven (16-14) and Archbishop Carroll (12-11) in the PIAA tourney before defeating Manhiem Township, which came in as the lone undefeated team in the state.
Springfield-Delco has been led by senior midfielder Shanon Burns (Delaware), who has been a scoring machine in the playoffs. Senior Valerie Paolucci (St. Joseph’s) has been the Cougars’ other main scoring threat while senior Lindsey Mace, and juniors Maddy Lynch and Courtney Kennedy and sophomore Nathalie Basunga have provided great balance. Freshman Alex Poplawski has emerged as a defensive stopper at midfield and also scored two goals against Manheim Township,
The defense also features senior Kim McCormick (Monmouth), sophomore Michelle Gildea, and seniors Maddy McKnight and Liz Lynch. Senior Janel Folkomer (Cabrini) has been solid in the goal.