By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/8/19
The PIAA began crowning state champions in lacrosse in 2009.
In the 10 state tournaments that were held before the one Saturday, the Springfield-Delco girls team had played in the final three times and came home disappointed each time.
Villa Maria Academy had earned the right to play for a state title only once – and had been successful with a victory over Kennard Dale last June.
Since Villa Maria had beaten Springfield-Delco for the 2019 Class AA district championship two weeks ago, many felt the PIAA final would go the Hurricanes’ way.
The Springfield players and coaches had other ideas. Jumping to a big advantage in the first 12 minutes of play, the Cougars (20-6) earned a 10-8 decision over the Hurricanes (25-2) and earned the school’s first girls’ lacrosse state title at West Chester East High School’s Zimmerman Stadium Saturday morning.
“(Assistant coach) Aly Gormley said on the ride over here that it still hurt thinking about playing in the finals and losing that game (to Garnet Valley in 2014),” Springfield head coach Keith Broome said. “And (assistants) Sarah (Damato) and Jackie (Grenier) always talked about never having the chance to play for the state title when they were on the team.”
Cougars junior Olivia Pace has heard the tales of how her mother (the former Mitch McDermott) helped Ridley win the 1983 district/state championship over Marple Newtown, snapping the Tigers’ three-season winning streak.
“She talks about that all the time,” said Pace, who scored twice in the first half. “And she always mentions how that game was played at Springfield High.”
Knowing that Villa Maria had played a strong offensive game in defeating Archbishop Carroll, 18-10, in the semifinal round Tuesday, the Cougars prepared to take away the Villa Maria strengths – draw controls and offensive execution.
“They have such a good offense,” Broome said. “So we wanted to at least be 50 percent on draw controls. And Belle (Mastropietro) did a good job with that, going up against Abby (Walheim, who had eight of Villa Maria’s 10 draw controls after getting 15 against Carroll).”
Mastrpieto scored three goals and got four draw controls as Springfield and Villa split the latter key statistic, 10-10.
“We never let up,” Mastropietro said. “We kept up the same intensity for both halves. We knew there were things we couldn’t do that hurt us in our last game against them.
“Dana (Mirigliano, the senior goalie) had some big saves (including three in the second half), and we were ready to go after ground balls.”
Villa Maria head coach Allie Sweeney expected the Cougars to come out aggressively.
“They were one step ahead of us consistently,” Sweeney said. “We didn’t play badly, they just outplayed us and outhustled us today.”
Bridget Finley got the first of her three goals early in the first minute to put Villa Maria on top. Over the next 11 minutes, Springfield went on a six-goal roll in which Erin Gormley (four goals, two assists) and Alyssa Long both scored twice and Mastropietro and Pace also tallied. Walheim and Finley got four of those goals back for Villa, which trailed at halftime, 8-5.
“We knew going in that they were going to be really aggressive,” Walheim said. “In the first game, we dominated 50-50 ground balls and we didn’t do that today. That’s where they took over, and it was a key to the game.
“When they had the ball, they possessed it and took care of it. When we got it, we turned it over.”
Villa Maria got to within one goal on scores by Hannah Young and Margie Carden in the second half before Mastropietro and Gormley (8-meter shot) answered for Springfield.
After that, Mirigliano (7 stops) made a couple of big saves, and defenders Long, Julie Schickling, McKayla Cox, Gormley and Carli Johnston tightened things up on the Villa attack, which got only a Carden goal in the final 13 minutes of play. Marigliano also a caused turnover and a clutch groundball.
“We knew they were good, but everyone did their jobs,” Mirigliano said.
Gormley, a junior who has committed to Delaware, recalled a conversation she had with her older sister and assistant coach.
“She told me she knew that losing feeling and didn’t want that for me,” she said. “She’s always told me about working hard. And I’m glad she was here when we finally got to win this for the first time.”
Pace credited Gormley and the others in the midfield for the play that determined the outcome.
“It began with draw controls and everybody playing their game,” she said. “My freshman year we lost this game to Carroll. That’s why seeing us finally get a championship means so much. It’s such a great feeling.”
The Cougars (20-6) fell in the PIAA finals, in 2010, 2014 (one classification for each) and 2017 (Class AAA).
PIAA Class AA Championship
Springfied-Delco 10, Villa Maria Academy 8
Villa Maria 5-3- 8
Springfield-Delco 7-3- 10
Bridget Finley 3g
Abby Walheim 2g
Hannah Young 1g
Margie Carden 2g, 1a
Adele Iacobucci 1a
Kyla Branco 4 saves
Erin Gormley 4g, 2a
Belle Mastropietro 3g
Olivia Pace 2g
Alyssa Long 1g
Dana Marigliano 7 saves