Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/13/22 – Staff Report
Methacton junior Megan Sanelli said the thrill of beating Owen J. Roberts first hit her with 40 seconds left in Thursday’s Pioneer Athletic Conference girls’ lacrosse championship game.
“I honestly just couldn’t believe it, I was on attack with 40 seconds left and I started hugging my teammates,” said Sanelli, whose Warriors shocked the previously-undefeated Wildcats, 8-5, for the title at Upper Merion. “It was unreal. Coach *(Laurie) Markle was so happy – it was amazing because no one believed we could win.
“We lost, 18-1, to them and ended up beating them the third time!”
The Methacton (15-4) triumph was a noteworthy upset. Owen J. Roberts was 18-0 entering play, ranked No. 6 by Phillylacrosse.com and No. 2 in Class AAA in the PA State Rankings. The Wildcats had defeated the Warriors by that 18-1 score on March 31 and also by 17-6 on April 27.
OJR – which had won the last six PAC titles – had not been tested in any game until its final regular-season game, a 7-3 win over Garnet Valley (ranked No. 4 in AAA in the state). But the Warriors used a new defense that showed some zone and other tricks to confuse the ‘Cats, and a patient but aggressive offense. Two other keys were brilliant goaltending by senior Mackenzie Clark (12 saves) and strong work at the draw by Elise DeWan.
Methacton seized a quick 2-0 lead before the Wildcats responded with two goals. Sanelli (four goals, one assist) then scored her second goal to put Methacton up 3-2 and 17 seconds later Jayme Weber (two goals) got her second for a 4-2 lead. with 11:56 left in the first half.
Michelle Zhai (two goals, one assist) scored to make it 5-2 before the half.
“We went in with the idea of taking shots only when we had to,” Sanelli said “We’d take four minutes off the clock – they weren’t pressing out so there was no rush – and we used time to our advantage.”
Sanelli said her team came into the game with confidence and felt it had a real shot once they scored first.
“When we got our first goal that got us so excited,” she said. “Later they took a time out and we took a deep breath and said, ‘We know they can come back.’ We didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”
OJR never got closer than two goals in the second half, as Clark shut the door on any comeback hopes.
“Mackenzie had the best game I have ever seen,” Sanelli said. “We know how good she is. When someone is shooting an 8 meter we can breathe. We put a lot on her.”
Clark said she was nervous before the game, but her teammates helped her focus on the team isntead of her own personal concerns.
“The past few games and practices I wasn’t really playing as well as I wanted and I was so nervous for this game because I knew a lot of it was riding on me,” she said, “But everyone’s mentalities going into it we’re so intoxicating, there was no question that we were going to win.
“We had to. It was our last chance against them and our last chance for a PAC championship. The mentality of the team really helped me to not focus on playing for myself, but playing for them.
“I always meditate before games to get myself focused and I think about who I’m playing for. By playing for them I had one of the best games of my career, and it showed because I hit 500 saves exactly.”
Clark and Sanelli said the team dedicated the day to Markle, the Methacton coach for the past 16 years. The Warriors had not beaten Owen J. Roberts for 9 years and 22 games. Methacton lost four times before in the league finals, and the last two by one goal in 2015 (11-10) and 2016 (9-8) to the Wildcats.
“All year, coach has been telling us that we could beat OJR, we just have to play smart and play our game,” Clark said. “Even after losing to them by so much the past two times we played them, she still had that unwavering belief in us and that made us believe in ourselves and play the hardest we ever have.”
Amazingly, today the Warriors face Penncrest in an important n0n-league game that will have bearing on Disteict 1 seedings.
“We need to win today against Penncrest for a better seeding,” Sanelli said. “We can’t come out thinking that just because we won PACs we’ll come out like we did yesterday. We can’t take anything for granted.”
Alexa Vogelman led OJR with three goals and four draws.
Pioneer Athletic Conference championship
Methacton 8, Owen J. Roberts 5
Methacton 5-3 – 8
Owen J. Roberts 2-3 – 5
Megan Sanelli 4g 1a
Michelle Zhai 2g 1a
Jayme Weber 2g
Mackenzie Clark 12 saves (500th save of career)
Owen J. Roberts
Alexa Vogelman 3g, 4dc
Ava Clemson 3dc
Sierra Milano 1gb
Blakely Doyle 2gb
Laina Grimm 1gb
Ashley White 3gb, 3ct
Rachel Sbri 1gb, 1ct
Marley Danielsson 1gb
Avery Aentzel 1gb, 1ct
Gabbi Koury 1g, 1a, 1dc
Laina Grimm 1g
Colby Wasson 1dc
Korrigan Sweeney 3 saves