By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/9/18
Last weekend, Unionville ended Archbishop Carroll’s one-year reign as PIAA Class AAA girls lacrosse champion.
The seven days that followed were full of interesting things for coach Suzanne Sheehan and her players.
Before they left West Chester East High’s Zimmerman Stadium Saturday afternoon, the Indians wore big smiles on their faces and gold medals around their necks after earning an 11-6 decision over Manheim Township and claiming their first state title.
Unionville (23-2), which finished third in the District 1 tournament, also became the first Ches-Mont League team to claim the top PIAA prize. Downingtown East, which bowed to Garnet Valley in 2011, was the only other Ches-Mont squad that had earned the chance to play for a state title.
“From the beginning, I offered the seniors the chance to come up with a team motto,” said Sheehan, who wore the remains of what had been a half-full bucket of ice for the awards ceremony and post-game session after being ambushed by some of her players. “They were the ones who said ‘it’s our turn,’ and we stressed from the first week that they would be the ones who could carry us to this and help keep the younger kids going.”
Senior Erin Garvey made her final game in a Unionville uniform one for the ages, scoring five of her six goals in the game’s first 20 minutes, helping her team to an 8-3 advantage at halftime.
“When I get the ball, I just try to settle it in and play smart,” the Michigan-bound midfielder said.
Was there an explanation for the way she found openings and went to goal to score despite being surrounded at times by three defenders?
“I just look for gaps that I can squeeze through without causing charging fouls,” Garvey said. “These last two weeks (four state tournament victories) have been such fun. We were so busy, but I think that helped us from being distracted.
“I can’t think of a better way for us to finish our season.”
Three days after beating Archbishop Carroll, the eight Unionville seniors found themselves going through morning graduation exercises at the University of Delaware. That was followed by the long trek to Methacton High that afternoon for a state semifinal showdown with Garnet Valley, which had handed the Indians their first loss in the opening week of the season.
“Graduation, playing Garnet Valley, our underclassmen taking finals, and practicing for the state championship game … it’s been something,” senior midfield Veronica Hineman, the Duke signee who scored one goal and added a pair of assists, said.
“We just had to make sure that after all that, we pulled things together today. Erin and I played soccer together and we’ve been best friends since second grade. It’s all been so great.”
Junior Emma Malone scored the first goal of both halves for Unionville, and senior goalie Madison Doucette turned away 11 Manheim Township shots, including seven in the second half. Doucette had one first-half sequence in which she made a great save on a shot and an even better stop on the rebound.
“The defense forced them into a bad first shot,” the Northwestern signee said. “And reaction time just took over on the second shot. We’ve had some wild games during our playoff run and some strange weather. But all along I knew I had such a good defense in front of me.
“They were amazing today. And they’re so young. I don’t think we had any doubts from the start, even though you wonder how such young players can play like that in a state championship game. I just so glad we ended up doing what we did.”
Freshman Shannon Garvey, sophomores Kelly Brown and Maggie Lawrence, and seniors Erin Garvey, Taryn Burke and Annie McDonough were among the defenders who helped make Doucette’s job easier.
“I’m not surprised with what she did,” Erin Garvey said of Doucette. ““You just expect that from Madison.”
Manheim Township coach Mark Pinkerton was disappointed but pleased that his team broke through and reached the state finals for the first time after the monumental 12-10 win Tuesday over Springfield-Delco. He also was happy his team refused to let down in the second half after falling behind, 11-3.
“We always battle, that’s what this group does,” he said.
“I am really proud. It’s been a long process since I started (coaching at Manheim) in 2011. It takes a long time developing a program and we got more big game experience. Now we got here and we got a taste of it and know what it takes to get here. I couldn’t be more proud of this team, it’s a special team.
“It’s not about talent – there is talent, it’s about their effort and commitment to working hard.”
Sheehan was happy enjoying what had just happened, but did allow briefly think about what might happen when she and her 2019 team get together for their first official practice – in just 268 days.
“We don’t have a real big junior class this year,” she said. “But we do have a good-sized sophomore class and we have expectations from the freshman class. We’ll miss those who will go on (to college), but I’m sure we’ll work hard because those girls who were here today will want to do this again.”
Video Highlights by David Cartularo Video
Unionville 11, Manheim Township 6
Unionville 8 3 – 11
Manheim Twp. 3 3 – 6
Unionville: Erin Garvey 6G; Emma Malone 2G; Veronica Hineman 1G 2A; Annie McDonough 1G; Mina Scott 1G.
Manheim Township: Lucy Svetec 2G; Maris Large 1G 1A; Taylor Kopan 1G; Lizzie McBride 1G; Shannon Elias 1G.
Saves: Madison Doucette (U) 11; Haley McCullough (MT) 3.