By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/12/21
The Radnor High seniors saw two of their 2021 season goals elude them when they failed to win the Central League and District 1 championships.
“There was still one left – the state championship,” said defender Ellie Reinhart, one of the Raiders’ senior captains, Saturday afternoon at West Chester East High’s Zimmerman Stadium.
As Reinhart spoke, a large gold medal with the inscription “PIAA Class AAA champion” sparkled in the sunlight. Reinhart and the Raiders achieved the final goal by defeating Manheim Township, 11-5, earning the school’s fourth state title. The others were in 2009 and 2010 in Class 3A and 2017 in Class 2A.
Manheim Township (21-6) has bowed in three straight championship games, also in 2018 (to Unionville) and 2019 (Harriton).
“This was Phase 3 of our three-part goals,” Reinhart said. “And it was the most important one. I don’t think I’ve ever watched so much film on another team as we just did.
“Then at practice one day our offense worked against what their defense was going to do, and the next day our defense worked against what their offense was going to do. We were just so prepared for this game. Our junior year we had such a good team coming back and we thought it was our year. But we never got to play, so that’s what made this year so special for us.”
The win meant a lot to head coach Kristin Addis, a former Radnor player who had to join her players in sitting out the 2020 season because of the national pandemic, which put a halt to the spring sports season.
“We want to prepare them not only for a season like this but also for going on and being ready to be Division I players in college,” Addis said. “We wanted to teach them how to play the game and how to play with their hearts. The idea is that when you go out there, you refuse to lose.”
Radnor put its will to win on display in the opening minute of play. It took only 31 seconds for Tori DiCarlo to score the opening goal, then six minutes later it was Margaret Mooney getting goal No. 2 after being set up by Sheila Esgro.
Manheim Township’s only goal of the first half came with 14 minutes left from the stick of junior Sydney Witwer. Before the half ended, Esgro added a pair of Radnor goals (Sally Austen and Cierra Hopson assists), and Austen and Olivia Kelley, who finished with three goals, also tallied to make it 6-1.
“We knew what a big game it was,” Austen said. “We just had to play the way we knew how to play.”
In the second half, Manheim Township trimmed Radnor’s lead to three goals twice, 6-3 and 8-5, but Austen ran up on a Blue Streaks pass and turned in a key interception with 4:35 to play.
“That’s just something that happened in the moment,” Austen said. “I turned and saw the ball and went after it.”
After she did, Kelley scored two more times to make it 10-5 and DiCarlo set the final score 21 seconds before the last whistle sounded.
Mooney finished with nine draw controls, a total five over what the Manheim Township team came up with.
“Just like our other games, draw control was such an important part of this game,” Mooney said. “We knew at halftime our defense had been doing the job and that we wanted more out of our offense. Their goalie (sophomore Maddie Eckert, who made 15 saves) had a great game. We just had to finish our plays.”
Manheim Township coach Mark Pinkerton was proud of his team in defeat. The Blue Streaks surprised some by defeating District 1 runner-up Garnet Valley in the first round after placing just third in the District 3 tournament. As tired as he is of losing in the state title game, he was confident his team could return soon.
“We knew how tough they would be; we needed to eliminate some of the turnovers in the first half,” he said. “It was a little bit of nerves and a little bit of pressure from a good team in Radnor.
“This year was really a rebuild. We lost to Wilson in the semifinals in districts, but we regrouped and beat Garnet with a simple game plan that the kids executed. We executed today, but Radnor was the better team.
“But we’re young and we have a lot of exciting players in the freshman and sophomore classes. I look at the next two years as being super competitive for us.”
Addis credited assistant coach Shannon McGarrigle, who was an outstanding player at Springfield-Delco and the University of Delaware, with making draw controls an important part of the Radnor game plan.
The Raiders’ defense, which got solid efforts from Avery Ciatto, Katie DeShan, Austen, Hopson, Rinehart, Tellian Schwartz and Esgro, limited Manheim Central’s shots on goal as well as forcing 10 turnovers.
“We said that since it was our last game we had to put everything we had out there,” Ciatto said. “If we only had one game left, it had to be one we could always remember.”
Hopson echoed those sentiments.
“We knew what they (the Blue Streaks) wanted to do, and we were ready for it,” she said. “We were playing this game to win the state championship.”
PIAA AAA Championship
Radnor 11, Manheim Township 5
Manheim Township 1 4 – 5
Radnor 6 5 – 11
Sydney Witwer 2G
Megan Rice 2G
Alyssa Dotter 1G
Bronwyn Heilbert 1A
Maddie Eckert 15 saves
Olivia Kelley 3G
Sally Austen 2G 2A
Sheila Esgro 2G 1A
Tori DiCarlo 2G
Margaret Mooney 1G
Julie Breedveld 1G
Cierra Hopson 1A
Abby Jansen 1 save
Elise Palmer 2 saves