By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/17/12
Thrust into a different world than the one she knew as a midfielder at Messiah College as part of the festivities during Saturday’s IWCLA Division III North-South game at the United Sports Training Center in Downingtown, Rachel Dirksen had one mission before the game. A mission she never envisioned happening before.
“I had to go up to one of the players and tell her, ‘Sorry’, for the red card that I got against her,” Dirksen said when recalling how weird it was to play with a previous opponent. “That was kind of interesting.”
The other interesting thing in the game was the way the South nearly clawed out of a five-goal deficit in the second half. The team, which included Philly natives Dirksen (Abington) and Lexi Kelly (Agnes Irwin), battled back to trim the North’s lead to one with less than six minutes to go, but back-to-back tallies on the other side sealed a 10-7 decision for the North squad.
Pregame apologies aside, Dirksen, who picked up an assist on Lesley Buckingham’s (Lynchburg) second goal of the day, indicated that she enjoyed her time on the field Saturday, especially given an opportunity to go toe-to-toe with some of the nation’s elite D-III talent.
“It’s so much fun,” said Dirksen, an All-Middle Atlantic Conferences Centennial Conference pick and All-Region selection who leaves Messiah as the school’s all-time leader in goals, assists and points. “There’s a lot of girls we played against, so it’s just fun getting to know them as people, instead of the nasty players we are on the field. It’s good because everyone’s got your back and everyone’s working hard.”
After spotting the North an 8-3 lead after consecutive goals from Erin Kollar (SUNY-Cortland) less than a minute apart, the South team buckled down defensively and turned the tables on its opponent. A 4-0 run highlighted by a pair of tallies from Centennial Conference Player of the Year Hannah Church (Gettysburg) helped the South keep the game exciting, but Kollar and Bates’ Joan O’Neill ended the threat with back-to-back goals less than 2:30 apart.
“It makes it more exciting,” said Kelly, a Ridley Park resident who won a national championship with the Bullets in 2011. “It makes it worthwhile, I think, if we have a big deficit to come back from. We didn’t quite make it, but we shortened it a little bit.”
One of the day’s common themes was an appreciation for the amount of talent assembled on the field, and that wasn’t lost on Kelly either. Given a final chance to play collegiate lacrosse both with and against some top talent, Kelly didn’t let the opportunity go to waste.
“It’s nice to get that one last chance to actually get a chance to come out and play with everybody that you’re usually playing against,” Kelly said. “It’s a fun time. It was good to get out here one more time.”
North 10, South 7
South 2 5 – 7
North 5 5 – 10
Lesley Buckingham (Lynchburg) 3g
Hannah Church (Gettysburg) 2g, 1a
Elizabeth Hartge (Roanoke) 1g
Catherine Kennedy (Mary Washington) 1g
Mary Swarthout (Catholic) 1a
Rachel Dirksen (Messiah) 1a
Colleen Simpson (St. Mary’s) 2 saves
Maddie Coleman (Gettysburg) 4 saves
Erin Kollar (SUNY-Cortland) 4g
Joan O’Neill (Bates) 3g, 1a
Jenna Dannis (Bates) 2g
Caite Irvine (Trinity) 1g
Morgan DeShaw (Endicott) 1a
Kendyl Clarkson (Buffalo State) 1a
Maggie Drowica (Wesleyan) 3 saves
Leah Neff (Endicott) 2 saves