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PIAA girls’ championship preview: Young Garnet Valley has exceeded expectations to reach title game

Friday, 10th June 2011

Categories Girl's/Women's, High School  
 

By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/10/11

Garnet Valley coach Kate Henwood admits she was not expecting to take her team to Hershey this year to play for a state championship.

“We talked about goals in the beginning of the season and basically we knew we’d be better than we had ever been before,” said Henwood. “But I don’t think anyone ever mentioned us in any of the preseason talks.

“Garnet Valley is never a name that comes up when talking about the post season. But after we beat Springfield-Delco and Harriton and Conestoga, we knew we could compete with anybody.”

On Saturday (1 p.m.) at HersheyPark Stadium, the Jaguars – with only one senior starter – will meet Downingtown East (25-1) in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) title game.

The game will serve as the rematch of the District 1 title game, when Garnet Valley (23-3) suffered a lopsided 22-12 loss to the Cougars (25-1). In that game, Downingtown East went on a stunning 10-goal run to take a 10-2 lead and then dominated the start of the second half after the Jags had closed within six goals at the end of the first half.

“We watched lot of video (Thursday) and I think the conclusion was that they (the Cougars) are human and played a really great game against us,” Henwood said. “We are also a good team and that was not the type of lacrosse we have been playing the last month.

“The way we’ve been playing recently and the way we played that game was like watching two different teams. We look to seek redemption and go out and play true Garnet Valley lacrosse.”

Garnet Valley’s fortunes turned for the better this year after it defeated Harriton, 17-12, and then Springfield-Delco, 13-12, in late April. The Jags – now ranked No. 33 in the nation by ESPN RISE – finished as quad-champs of the Central League with Springfield-Delco, Harriton and Radnor and have won 20 of their last 21 games.

In states, the Jags picked up impressive wins over Hariton (18-10) and Archbishop Carroll (15-10) as well as a 16-6 conquest of Penn Manor in the semifinals. Juniors Halley Barnes, Allyson Heavens and AnnaElise Morello have paced the attack all year and junior Kate Stroup has emerged as a key in the goal.

And although the team is young (Natalie Lang is the only senior starter), Henwood believes the Jaguars have matured at the peak time.

“We’ve been playing together since the beginning of March and I think the facet we only have one senior has played to our advantage,” said Henwood. “We don’t have any distractions like graduation or the prom and all that has helped our young group stay even more focused.”

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