By Harry Chaykun
While Harriton High was winning the 2013 PIAA championship, Laura Lasprogata was a junior varsity freshman player at Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy.
“I wanted to go to Springside because it was an all-girls school,” Lasprogata said. “Then they let the Chestnut Hill boys in. I had played with some of the (Harriton) girls in the summer, so I decided that if I was going to play lacrosse, it would be at Harriton.”
She has been a dependable player in a reserve role for coach George Dick this spring. When the Rams were short-handed because of injuries earlier in the season, she got her share of playing time.
Wednesday night at Neumann University in the first round of the PIAA Tournament, Harriton was in need of some reserve strength when the game started, as freshman Sophie Grady stood in goal in place of injured senior Melina Avery. Late in the first half, the Rams’ lineup was reduced by one more as senior Katie Melvin picked up her second yellow card, making her a spectator for the rest of the contest.
Lasprogata picked up for her in a big way, scoring 13 seconds before halftime to put Harriton ahead, then putting in the final three goals of the game as the defending state champion Rams (18-6) came away an 11-9 winner over District 12 champion Archbishop Carroll (18-4). Saturday, Harriton and Central League champion Garnet Valley (21-2) will meet in a quarterfinal matchup of the teams that have won the last three PIAA championships.
“Laura Lax-Progata,” Dick said with a big grin as he watched Lasprogata dealing with the post-game attention that was directed her way.
“Our defense came up really big for us in the second half of this game. And how about our two sophomores – Sophie Grady making those key saves in the second half, and Laura.”
Carroll, which got six goals from junior Avery Murphy, took an 8-7 lead when Murphy connected on an 8-meter shot eight minutes into the second half. It was the Patriots’ final goal, thanks to a couple big stops by Grady and the defensive efforts of people like Alexa Foust, Sabrina Tabasso, who also chipped in with a pair of goals and a number of draw controls, Hilary Lemonick, Allie Margulies, and Jessica Herman, Liv Tevis, and Maura Henderson.
It took about two and a half minutes after Murphy’s last goal for Lasprogata to pull Harriton even, then two minutes later she gave the Rams the lead. When she connected with 10:47 left, Dick had his team go into its delay game, with the ball being passed from player to player from the front of the cage to the back, keeping the opposing defenders frustrated.
“I hate it when we do that because I’m always afraid I might do something wrong,” Lasprogata said.
There was little wrong with what she did in helping her team to victory in her first state tournament game.
“I know there are times when I might make a turnover and lose my confidence,” she said. “That’s when (Tabasso) makes sure I get myself right back in the game. After that first one went in for me in the second half, it was a lot better.”
Tabasso suffered a broken foot in Harriton’s victory over Springfield-Delco in the 2013 district championship game and watched from the sideline as the Rams won four in a row in the state tournament, including an overtime decision over Radnor in the state final in Hershey on a goal by All-American Caleigh Foust.
“Laura can be a player like Caleigh,” said Tabasso, showing her high regard for the young sophomore. “I love how she plays.”
Archbishop Carroll (18-4) coach Lorraine Beers had words of praise for the players who wore a Patriots uniform for the last time, including All-Catholic Megan Santoleri, who suffered a leg injury 15 minutes into the game and could not return.
“They’ve been a great group of seniors,” Beers said. “This was a tough one for them to lose.”
Harriton 11, Archbishop Carroll 9
Harriton 6 5 – 11
Arch. Carroll 5 4 – 9
Harriton: Laura Lasprogate 4G, Sabrina Tabasso 2G, Katie Melvin 1G 1A, Alex Ladda 1G, Bailey Ebby 1G, Jane Henderson 1G, Maura Henderson 1G.
Archbishop Carroll: Avery Murphy 6G 1A, Isabelle Schmitt 2G, Margaret Fillippelli 1G
Saves: Sophie Grady (H) 5, Sophia Cuzzupe (AC) 11.