By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/25/19
During Spring Break the Harriton girls’ lacrosse team went to Southern California to play two games – but more importantly, the result of the trip was extreme bonding.
“We only played two games out there but we had practices and we stayed in the rooms together and it just solidified what we had,” said Harriton senior attack Allie Schwab. “The fun we had – we had a ‘fake’ wedding and so many goofs and laughs. We made a 20-minute blog video. We had so much fun and it brought us even closer together than we were.”
That closeness and togetherness was a major factor for Harriton’s surprising success in 2019. The Rams – not a favorite in the preseason for any championship – shared the Central League title with Radnor, reached the District 1 Class AAA final and then won their first PIAA crown since 2013 by handling Manheim Township, 12-6, at West Chester East.
Schwab, a US Lacrosse All-American and All-Academic pick, was an anchor on the team, scoring a state and region high 178 points on 86 goals and 92 assists. For her efforts, she has been named the 2019 Phillylacrosse.com Girls’ Co-Player of the Year (with Episcopal Academy’s Olivia Dirks).
One reason Harriton (24-2 record) was not picked by many to be a state contender was because the Rams failed to make states the three previous seasons and entered the year with only one Division I commit and only two others – Schwab (Washington and Lee) being one – that had committed to any other level.
But the Rams, who finished 24-2, started strong, defeating Central League powers Conestoga and Garnet Valley in the first week of the league season. 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. Schwab had 15 points in the final three games; actually two below her average for the year!
Schwab said her success was a result of the team’s close camaraderie on and off the field.
“We’re just literally best friends and we’re so close that – honestly it sounds so corny – but I can see what we are doing,” said Schwab. “I can tell what Emily Stewart or Katelin (Williams) is going to do so I knew when to pass or where to go with each of them.
“It was an amazing feeling to know my teammates so well I was not playing for myself. I was playing for every single girl and we all were playing for each other. Playing on a team like this was special..”
Harriton coach George Dick said Schwab’s improvement over her senior year was remarkable.
“The reality is that she worked on her game at practice, outside of practice she worked on her shot,” he said. “But the biggest thing was that she was confident that she could do it.
“Last year she played a lot. She played a lot as a freshman, but all those years she didn’t have that same confidence. Part of it was support she got from her teammates. They didn’t care if she made a mistake.
“Her confidence in her game elevated the team. That’s the sign of a great player; you make everybody around you better. And any honor she’d get, she’d just shrug her shoulders and move forward. She has no ego.
“We had a lot of good players. But our offense didn’t run when she didn’t play. She was the straw that stirred the drink and the focal part of the offense.”