By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/8/19
Late in the second half of the PIAA Class AAA championship game at West Chester East High’s Zimmerman Stadium Saturday afternoon, Harriton coach George Dick called out to the officials that he wanted to make a change in goal.
Dick sent senior Morgan McElhaney to the cage, and junior Alex Turner sprinted off the field to the cheers of the Harriton faithful as well as salutes from her teammates and coaches.
Turner turned away seven shots, many of them appearing ticketed for the back of the goal cage, as she did all she could to help the Rams (24-2) knock off Manheim Township (22-4), 12-6, for the school’s second state title.
The championship was Harriton’s first since 2013, when the Rams got past Radnor, 8-7, in Hershey in the days when only one state champion was crowned.
Manheim Township – the only team from outside the District 1/12 Phily region to make the state finals in Class AAA or with one classification – was making its second consecutive appearance in the state final, having dropped an 11-6 decision to Unionville last year.
Senior Allison Schwab scored four goals and added a pair of assists and freshman Grace Dwyer completed her first playoff experience with a four-goal effort for Harriton, which used a 9-1 run to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 12-5 lead.
“We kept it simple and did the things we’ve always done,” Dick said. “We knew there would be a good crowd, and we wanted to see how they would react and make the game go the way we wanted it to go.
“(Turner) was great, we played a strong second half, and they didn’t score in that half until the very end (against McElhaney).”
Harriton had a 11-9 advantage in draw controls, a fact that was not lost on Manheim Township coach Mark Pinkerton.
“We lost a lot of draws, and some 50/50 balls didn’t go our way,” Pinkerton said. “When we got behind, we started pressing and made mistakes. Their goalie was hot in the second half, and we’re young with only two seniors. We lost seven seniors from last year’s team and were starting a freshman and five sophomores.”
Junior Taylor Kopan and senior Ashlyn Campagna got two goals apiece for the Blue Streaks, who took a 2-1 lead on a goal by junior grader Shannon Elias 13:40 before halftime.
Campagna’s two scores came 1:21 apart and put Manheim Township up, 4-3, with just under 11 minutes to play in the half. The next three goals – and five of the six in the remaining time in the first half – came from Harriton sticks, with Dwyer (6 groundballs, five draw controls) and Katelin Williams accounting for two apiece.
Schwab opened the second-half scoring with a pair, less than a minute and half apart. Then it was Dwyer’s turn to toss in two goals while the Harriton defense, led by Turner, Alexia Louca, Reilly Short, Mikayla Braver, Ashton Odiorne, Abby Tevis, Cara Margolis, Maddie Henderson, and Emily Stewart was holding off Manheim Township.
“Everything we did was so that we could finish this season off the right way,” said Turner (8 saves), who began playing lacrosse as an eighth grader. “I honestly don’t think I could ever have imagined this thing happening.
“But we all wanted this win. It’s such a great feeling knowing what we just did. All week, all the drills we did at practice and all the shots they took on me were getting us ready for this.”
Stewart, who will play at Iona next spring, had four draw controls, three in the second half.
“I think our seniors knew we could do this,” she said. “And Coach D has made sure we’ve kept working for this. We worked hard at practice on draw controls and defending against what he knew they would do.
“His halftime message was about getting draw controls and taking good shots. We tried to do that, and Alex was amazing in the second half.”
Dwyer, who also is an outstanding ice hockey player, said playing the two sports has helped her.
“A lot of things you do in hockey can be like a lot of things you do in lacrosse,” she said. “When I came to this team when we started, I knew there were a lot of seniors. They were helpful to me, and having my sister (Lucy, a junior) on the team was good.
“We broke our season down into three parts. We won the Central League (tied with Harriton), but we lost districts. And today we won this.”
Schwab admitted that even after some time had passed after the final whistle, she was having trouble putting the accomplihsment into perspective.
“It’s all so surreal,” she said. “I’m not sure I’ve processed all this yet. I guess the tears will come later.
“The whole year we knew things could go our way if we supported each other. You know you have the chance, and you want to take advantage of it.”
Lucy Svetec, one of Township’s senior captains, got special defensive attention from Harriton’s Lucy Dwyer and was held off the scoreboard.
“Nobody was really expecting us to do what we did after (reaching the state final) last year,” Svetec said. “When we got here (last year) people were saying that was our one shot and we blew it. But to be able to get back here with such a young team is something we are so proud of.”
Harriton 12, Manheim Township 6
Manheim Twp. 5 1 – 6
Harriton 8 4 – 12
Manheim Township – Taylor Kopan 2G 1A, Ashlyn Campagna 2G, Megan Rice 1G 1A, Shannon Elias 1G.
Harriton – Allison Schwab 4G, 2A, Grace Dwyer 4G, 5DC, 6GB, Katelin Williams 2G 1A, Lucy Dwyer 1G, Emily Stewart 1G, 4DC, 4GB, Reilly Short 3GB, Mikayla Braver, 2GB, Abby Tevis 1GB.
Goalies – Gail Wilkes (MT) 5 saves; Alex Turner (Harr) 8 saves, Morgan McElhaney (Harr) 0 saves.