By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/8/14
If it turns out to be a three-game series, the first contest was a dandy.
Tuesday afternoon, visiting Garnet Valley got off to a strong start, rallied after Harriton came back in the second half, and held on for an 18-17 Central League victory. The Jaguars (8-0, 5-0) remained undefeated while the defending PIAA champion Rams (3-4, 3-1), who were shorthanded on the field as the result of injuries, suffered their second consecutive setback.
“They’re a solid lacrosse team, and they’re the defending state champions and only lost a couple people from last year,” Garnet Valley coach Jenny Purvis said. “The thing we’ve been stressing is the importance of keeping our composure and coming out on top in the close games.”
Tuesday’s game wasn’t close for the first nine minutes as Garnet Valley got the first five goals, three from senior Haley Warden (five goals, two assists), who assisted sophomore Emily Mathewson (five goals, two assists) on the opening score. Junior Madison Valerio also scored in the opening blitz for the Jags.
“She’s been starting lately and has been very steady,” Purvis said of Valerio. “She’s a smart player.”
Garnet Valley fired 17 shots in the first half at Harriton reserve goalie Sophie Grady, who started because Syracuse-bound regular Melina Avery was hurt by a shot that caught her in the helmet in Saturday’s game against Downingtown East.
“Their goalie did a nice job,” Purvis said. “We know we have to be more aware of being more efficient with our shots.”
By halftime, Warden had scored four of her five goals and Mathewson had three of her five scores.
Once Katie Melvin broke Harriton’s scoring drought, assisted by Sabrina Tabasso, the Rams went on a 5-2 run to get back into the game, and Tabasso’s tally four seconds before halftime left the home team down by four goals at the break.
Melvin, who scored three times in the opening half, added five in the second 25 minutes. Her final goal came with 5:30 to play and cut Garnet Valley’s lead to 17-15.
Warden countered three minutes later, but Tabasso (four goals, two assists) claimed the draw control and answered for the Rams 35 seconds later.
After Maura Henderson scored within the next 20 seconds to get Harriton to within one goal, a foul on the draw gave the Jaguars possession, and they spent the last 90 seconds running, passing and catching in the attack zone.
“From the first day of practice we knew we had to get some redemption (for losses last spring) when we came up here,” Mathewson said. “I think we came out really ready today.
“We figured they might want to double-team (Warden), but we have six other players who can go to goal if they do that. It’s great playing with the people who are on this team. You look forward to what you can learn each day at practice.”
Sophomore Kara Nakrasius, who shares attack and defensive duties at midfield for the Jags, got her one goal in the last minute of the first half.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of hard work at practice, and there was a lot of emotion today,” she said.
The GV players know they will need some emotion Thursday night when they host Springfield (6-0, 4-0) in another big Central League game.
Harriton got senior Hilary Lemonick, who had been sidelined by injury, back on its defensive unit.
“I know we’ve got a long way to go,” Lemonick said. “(Coach Dick) will be looking at the film of this game, and I’m sure we’ll all be hearing from him tonight.”
Garnet Valley 18, Harriton 17
Garnet Valley 12 6 – 18
Harriton 8 9 – 17
Dana Davis- 2g, 1a
Sabrina Fusco- 2g, 3a
Emily Mathewson- 5g, 2a
Kara Nakrasius- 1g, 1a
Madi O’Brien- 1g
Madison Valerio- 2g
Haley Warden- 5g, 2a
Paige Mitros- 10 saves
Katie Melvin 8G
Sabrina Tabasso 4G 2A
Alex Ladda 3G
Jane Henderson 1G 1A
Maura Henderson 1G
Sophie Grady 8 saves