By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/2/12
BOYDS, Md. – Great Valley rising senior Kirsten Hale scored the game-winner with 49 seconds left and Jessica Harsch (Owen J. Roberts) scored three goals to help Pennsylvania defeat New Jersey, 13-11, today to clinch a playoff berth in the Brine National Lacrosse Classic here at the Maryland Soccerplex.
Pennsylvania, comprised mostly of Philly girls, finished pool play at 3-1. PA earned the No. 2 seed and will meet No. 3 Long Island at 8 a.m. Tuesday in the semifinals. No,. 1 Maryland faces No. 4 Syracuse in the other semifinal. The title game follows at 9:30 a.m.
PA had dropped a 12-8 decision to Long Island in its third game and needed a victory to guarantee itself the playoff spot.
In the middle school girls tourney, Pennsylvania also qualified for the playoffs by taking the fourth seed. PA will face top-seeded Long Island North in the semis at 8 a.m.
“We could have won the game against Long Island,” said Harsch, a rising senior. “Even though we hadn’t played together before we’re doing a great job working together.’
Harsch said she decided to tryout for the tourney to get more experience.
“I like paying with different teams and it’s fun to get to know different girls from Pennsylvania and play teams from different states,” said Harsch who plays for 380 Lacrosse. “It’s fun to work with a lot of girls that have a lot of different skills.
“It helps you build your own skills.”
PA is coached by former Germantown Academy great Colleen Magarity, who was an All-American defender and won three national championships at Northwester; former Penn Charter and La Salle standout Nora McGurkin; and Great Valley coach Joe Tornetta.
“It’s going great so far,” said Magarity. “I am really excited about the level of talent in PA, and especially the Philly area.
“It’s so cool to see how much better girls have come since I was in high school (2007 graduate and member of USA U19 team).
“I just think that all around, Philadelphia area lacrosse is growing and getting better and better.”
Magarity has been very pleased with the PA team’s progress.
“This team is great and has come together very quickly,” she said. “They are eager to learn and they are doing the small things – getting groundballs, working hard, re-defending.”
Magarity’s only disappointment was losing to Long Island – which was coached by her former Northwestern teammate Shannon Smith. Later she learned she would get to play LI again.
“Well, we’re looking like the tougher team,” she said with a smile. “Long Island is a very good team and coaching against Shannon Smith was fun.
“I wanted to beat her. Well, we beat them physically. We won the 50-50s and draws and hopefully we see them again tomorrow.”
Magarity said the other joy she has seen with the PA team is the number of solid low defenders. She was a scorer in high school, but was moved to defense by Kelly Amonte Hiller and thrived at the position.
“I loved it (Northwestern), it was probably the hardest and best four years,” she said. “Obviously, it gave me a lot of great opportunities by playing on three national championship teams.
“I think playing defense makes you become more of a team player. I learned so much playing at that level and dealing with pressure.
“Kelly Amonte Hiller is a great coach that taught me so much. I am just so glad to see so many girls excelling as low defenders. I came up playing midfield and now I see more and more girls that want to play low defense and playing well there.”