By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 12/31/15
Months after the fact, Garnet Valley’s Emily Mathewson was still excited about the Jaguars’ stunning ride for the 2015 PIAA girls’ championship.
“It’s kind of funny, even (recently) I was talking to my mom and dad and it still felt surreal,” said Mathewson, now a senior who plays attack and midfield. “I knew we would be in a rebuilding year, so we surprised ourselves. It was amazing how quickly we adapted.”
Mathewson was the driving force behind one of the year’s most shocking stories. Garnet Valley, a team that entered states with a 14-9 record after finishing sixth in the Central League toppled league rival Conestoga, 14-10, to claim its second straight PIAA crown and fourth in five years.
For her efforts, Mathewson has been named the 2015 Phillylacrosse.com Co-Player of the Year (shared with Agnes Irwin’s Hannah Keating).
Mathewson, who is signed with Vanderbilt, said her team fed off being an underdog.
“In the beginning of the state tournament we had a win over Archbishop Carroll (a team the Jags had lost to 20-6 just two weeks earlier) and that was a signal that we could do this. A lot of people doubted us and that made us want to keep fighting and prove everyone wrong. Things clicked and we put it out there.”
Mathewson, who had 82 goals and 72 assists in 2015, said her team knew it could play with Conestoga when it prepared for the title game. The Jags dropped the first game to Conestoga, 13-11, but this time the ending was different.
Mathewson collected five goals, two assists and seven draw controls and Garnet Valley outscored Conestoga, 14-6, after a slow start, to take control of the game.
“We were actually winning by five or six goals at halftime the first time we played them and we thought if we played that half for both halves we could do it.,” said said. “A lot of people thought we had an easy road to the state championship game and figured we’d get killed once we got there.
“They got the first four goals, but the whole time we wanted to prove people wrong and we used that underdog mentality and it really, really helped us. Once we got the first goal under our belts we got ourselves together.”
Mathewson said a switch to midfield from attack helped her raise her game.
“Throughout the beginning of the year I was an attacker, but I was talking to coach (Jenny) Purvis after we had a rough patch and I knew I needed to be more of a leader,” Mathewson said. “I think when I began to play midfield and took the draws I found I had to help the team win in different ways. It helped change my leadership skills and my game.
“We started getting some good games under our belt. We all realized we couldn’t do this alone and each person had to bring it all to the table to help us win.
Purvis said Mathewson is a winner.
“Emily is one of those players that kind of brings out the best in everybody,” said Purvis. “She is what every coach wants in a star player. She finds a way to make her mark and is an amazing lacrosse player.
“Even when things go against her, she gets her shot off or causes a turnover. She doesn’t really ever succumb to pressure; it’s a testament to her competitiveness.
“She has a true passion for the game.”