By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/1/14
Jane Crager knew she’d be facing a major challenge when her Episcopal Academy hosted Agnes Irwin (averaging 18 goals per game) today in an early-season Inter-Ac League showdown.
Crager helped the EA defense dominate after Agnes Irwin took an early 4-1 lead as the hosts claimed a 17-8 victory.
EA, the nine-time defending Inter-Ac champion, improved to 5-1 overall. The Owls fell to 3-1.
Crager’s main task was to shadow Agnes Irwin senior Bridget Chakey, a Syracuse signee who was held scoreless.
“That might go as one of the unnoticed things about this game,” first-year EA head coach Josie Ferri said, “the defensive effort Jane Crager gave us.”
Crager, who has committed to the University of Michigan and once played club lacrosse for AI head coach Jenny Duckenfield, knew from the start that she wouldn’t see much of what was happening on the rest of the field because she would be standing with Chakey behind the goal when Agnes Irwin was on attack.
“My job was to face-guard her,” Crager, who moved to the area from Long Island and came to Episcopal as a ninth grader, said. “She’s a great feeder, and we knew their attack would want to go through her. Our coaches knew we had to shut her down.”
After EA’s Colby Gallagher scored in the first minute, Agnes Irwin got the next four goals, three on free position shots, with Laura Pansini (two goals) connecting for a pair.
By the time the first half ended 19 minutes later, Episcopal had scored 10 more times while holding AI scoreless in claiming an 11-4 advantage.
“EA did a great job controlling the draw and also controlled the groundballs,” said Agnes Irwin coach Duckenfield.
Taryn Gallagher got three of her four goals in the opening half and Emma Brumbaugh had half of her four goals for EA by halftime. Hannah Keating and Kristin Burnetta each added two goals for Agnes Irwin.
“That stats were divided fairly evenly, and we had eight players score goals,” said Ferri, who played at Haverford College and was an assistant at Villanova before coming to Episcopal Academy. “When we needed to make adjustments, they did that. If they made a mistake, they bounced right back.
“It’s great to start off league play with a win, especially when it’s against a school that’s a big rival.”
The EA attack was much more patient in the second half in protecting the lead, and sophomore goalie Sydney Gagnon came up with eight saves after the break in her first Inter-Ac action.
“I knew this was a big game,” said Gagnon, who transferred to EA after spending ninth grade at Downingtown East. “Sometimes I find myself letting in the first couple of shots while I find out about the other team’s shooters and what they like to do.”
What Ferri and her players have done since the first day of practice has been to work hard to be ready for Episcopal’s challenging schedule, which will include a contest against defending PIAA champion Harriton at the Katie Samson Festival later this month.
“There were days we had to get the snow off the field to practice,” said Crager, who will be joined at the University of Michigan by her twin sister Lily, who scored a goal Tuesday. “During our spring break, we practiced twice a day.
“We’re off to a good start, and we want to keep it going.”
Agnes Irwin 4 4 – 8
Episcopal Academy 11 6 – 17
Agnes Irwin: Hannah Keating 2G, Laura Pansini 2G, Kristin Burnetta 2G, Alicia O’Neill 1G, Lila Barker 1G, Emma Hill 1A.
Episcopal Academy: Emma Brumbaugh 4G 1A, Taryn Gallagher 4G, Corrine Zanolli 3G, Colby Gallagher 2G, Lauren Repke 1G 1A, Lily Crager 1G, Julia Hondros 1G, Grace Norley 1G.
Saves – Agnes Irwin: Caroline Roncalli 2, Haley Andress 1; Episcopal Academy: Sydney Gagnon 9.