By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/26/19
Harriton’s George Dick said he had to pinch himself often during the 2019 campaign, a near-perfect season for the Rams that finished with the PIAA Class AAA championship.
“When you become a coach, you dream about a season like this,” he said. “We didn’t have super duper high expectations. I thought we’d make the state playoffs. It’s amazing, this team was so special.”
It’s safe to say the Rams were not picked by many to win the Class AAA title or finish No. 1 in the final Phillylacrosse.com Rankings. They had failed to make the state playoffs the past three years and entered the year with one Division 1 commit and two other college commits.
But they shared the Central League crown with Radnor, reached the District 1 finals and then capped it off with a 12-6 triumph over Manheim Township June 8 at West Chester East. The guiding force behind the 24-2 season was Dick, who has been named Phillylacrosse.com Co-Coach of the Year for Girls’ teams with Springfield-Delco’s Keith Broome.
It’s the second time Dick has earned the honor; he led the Rams to their first state crown in 2013.
Harriton relied on many players that played multiple sports and will not play lacrosse in college. But Dick says their combined talents were unsurpassed and during the state playoffs Harriton was dominant.
Ram players spoke to the team’s closeness. Many had played together in club (for Quaker City, run by Dick), and egos did not exist.
“I think it’s the culture he’s created,” said senior defender Reilly Short. “We do so much together. And we’re all best friends. Going to San Diego (during Spring Break to play two games) was really big for bonding further. We did so many activities and we all believed and bought in.
“We were overlooked, but we knew how good we were and where we were going to go.”
Harriton did have standout players. Allie Schwab (86 goals, 92 assists) was named Phillylacrosse.com Co-Player of the Year and fellow All-American Katelin Williams was second in Southeast PA with 106 goals. Lucy Dwyer, Maddie Henderson and Emily Stewart were key players and freshman Grace Dwyer was one of the newcomers of the year while Alex Turner shined in goal, especially in the post-season.
But it was the team’s improvement that made Dick so proud.
“Our seniors had never been to states,” said Dick, who credited his lone assistant, Erika Baylis. “Last year we lost to Perkiomen Valley in the first district game. It was a terrible loss and we have grown from it.
“The biggest thing was that every kid was a completely different and better player than before. They weren’t incrementally better; they were different players. Allie Schwab had about 50 goals and 50 assists in her career – and she was a starter as a freshman – and this year she had 86 goals and 92 assists. Others had similar jumps.”
Schwab said Dick was the reason for the improvements.
“Our offense and defense always played together when we worked out,” said Schwab. “We never split the team up and that helped us so much. I have never been to a practice when we didn’t work hard.
“He always motivated us and made sure we worked hard. He has so much confidence in us and always said we can play amazing. And we did!”
Harriton started the league season by defeating Central League powers Conestoga and Garnet Valley in the first week. After a disappointing 23-11 loss to Radnor, the Rams regrouped and won 15 straight games before bowing to Conestoga, 11-10, in the district final.
In states, the Rams avenged the loss to Radnor, 13-7, and then defeated Downingtown West, 13-10, to reach the finals.
“We went under the radar the whole year,” Dick said. “The ultimate definition of a team is that you cannot have won without anybody being there. That is what we had.
“The Central League is a tough league. We know we play a lot of hard games and you need to win some to get confidence. We beat Stoga and Garnet Valley back-to-back and that kind of set the tone.
“Out confidence just grew every game and we got better. We never took anybody lightly, and we never expected to win. They’d say, ‘What do we need to do here, coach?’ We came back Sunday night after districts (before Memorial Day) and it’s usually the worst practice in the history of the world. But they came back super duper focused while everyone else was at the beach and busted their tails because they wanted to be great.
“It was a dream season!”