By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/27/22
Grace Turner, a 5-year varsity player, was proud to say she’s seen the progression of Penn Charter’s ascent to an elite team.
“It’s insane how far we’ve come,” said Turner after her Quakers held off Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 8-7, Thursday to win their first Pennsylvania Independent Athletic Association (PAISAA) championship at Cabrini University.
“In 8th grade it was not even cool to try. Every year since then we’ve gotten so much more competitive. The transformation has been amazing.
“We work so hard in practice. Now we’re the grittiest team in the state.”
That grit showed Thursday as the Quakers (20-4-1) won despite spending most of the final 18 minutes a player down vs. a SCH squad that rallied from a 4-goal deficit to pull within a goal twice.
Penn Charter led, 7-3, at halftime, but with 18:22 left Darcy Felter was called for the team’s fourth yellow card (causing a permanent player down situation) as the Blue Devils (17-5) began their rally.
Cece Reilly had made it 7-4 early in the second half and Emma Bradbury (four goals) scored twice to make it 7-6 with 8:49 to play.
Maddie Shoup (3 goals) stopped the run for Penn Charter with 4:20 to play and then goalie Kayla Joyce (5 saves) made one of her key stops to keep it 8-6 before Madison Freeman pulled SCH within one goal again 20 seconds later.
But Penn Charter gained possession and held the ball despite constant double teams. The Devils were called for a card with 1:19 to play and then again 37 seconds later as the Quakers drained the clock.
“I’ve been here 5 years and we started off getting killed in this tournament,” said Felter, a North Carolina signee who had three assists. “I’ve seen it come full circle. Our seniors are all best friends, so it couldn’t be any better than to finish it off like this.”
Charlotte Hodgson (one assist) and Bea Buckley each added two goals for Penn Charter and Gracie Shoup added one.
For the Blue Devils, Alex Reilly added a goal.
Springside Chestnut Hill coach Noelle Powell, while disappointed with the loss, was proud her team had reached the PAISAA final for the first time and had wins this year over Inter-Ac League champion Episcopal Academy and Penn Charter in the regular season, and Agnes Irwin in the PAISAA semifinals.
“It’s the inexperience of not being here and the hesitation,” Powell said of the slow start Thursday. “They trust each other but took a little too long to put their foot on the gas.
“But we knew we really dug it out this year. It was a season of firsts for us. We’re a young team still, not nearly as seasoned as the other three big teams in the Inter-Ac and for us to get that experience … I am so excited for the future. I am proud of our seniors for their leadership. The seniors did a really good job of empowering the younger girls.”
Turner said the Quakers did not panic when it went down a man for most of the second half.
“We stayed calm and kept our composure,” said Turner. “We were in the same situation against Bishop Shanahan when we were down a man for 28 minutes and still got the win.”
Seven-year Penn Charter coach Colleen Kelly said it’s been gratifying to see the program overcome struggles to become a champion.
“Honestly, this season was truly the accumulation of so much hard work and I am so proud of what they have accomplished,” she said. “We lost two 1-goal games to Episcopal and that helped us today in a close game. The team just got better and better as the season progressed.”
Penn Charter 8, Springside Chestnut Hill 7
Penn Charter 7-1-8
Darcy Felter 3A 1DC 1GB 1CT
Maddie Shoup 3G 1DC 1GB
Charlotte Hodgson 2G 1A 4DC 2GB 2CT
Gracie Shoup 1G 3DC
Grace Turner 2CT
Lauren Anderson 1CT
Bea Buckley 2G
Kayla Joyce 5 saves
Emma Bradbury 3g
Madison Freeman 1g
Cece Reilly 1g, 1a
Alex Reilly 1g
Lucy Pearson 7 saves