By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/22/22
Phillylacrosse.com congratulates Lorraine Beers (Archbishop Carroll) and Courtney Kaplan (Twin Valley) as its 2022 Girls’ Team Co-Coaches of the Year.
Beers guided the Patriots to a rare undefeated season (24-0) and a ranking in the Top 10 of all national polls. Carroll won the Catholic League and PIAA 2A championships while Kaplan’s Raiders won the Berks and District 3 2A crown before falling to Carroll, 10-8, in the PIAA final.
Honorable Mention Coaches of the year: Amy Orcutt (Conestoga), Noelle Powell (Springside Chestnut Hill Academy), Josie Tomaino (Episcopal Academy).
Phillylacrosse.com highlights the 2022 Coaches of the Year:
Make no mistake: the expectations for the 2022 season at Archbishop Carroll were high. Maybe higher than any year since Lorraine Beers guided the team to 21 straight Catholic League titles and a 2017 state championship.
“This is the most talented lacrosse team in Carroll’s history,” Beer said. “We have always had a few stars and a bunch of athletes that can compete, but never this many true lacrosse athletes and elite players. So we were the deepest we have ever been.
“I think that having so many really strong athletes and competitors on the team allowed us to be in every play through the final horn. If someone made a mistake, we had a teammate that would get the ball back for us. If the opponent made a mistake we could turn that into a goal. If we were behind, we only ever thought of a draw control or possession to take us to a goal for us and then back to the draw control and repeat.
“When you have a great group of girls like this and you know their abilities you just want them to enjoy their time together on the field and that will produce the wins.”
The wins sure came.
Carroll went 24-0, defeating elite teams such as Cardinal O’Hara (twice), Garnet Valley, Bishop Shanahan (twice), Conestoga, Radnor, Penn Charter, Springfield-Delco and Notre Dame Prep (MD). Although the victories over Conestoga and Penn Charter were by one goal, the toughest win may have been the last one, a 10-8 triumph over a well-prepared Twin Valley squad in the PIAA final.
In that game, Twin Valley was leading 6-4 at halftime, but Carroll scored the first three goals of the second half and seized control.
Carroll finished among the top 10 teams in the nation according to the two most recognized polls, from Lacrosse Magazine and Inside Lacrosse.
“Coach Beers does a great job with that idea (of a target on the team’s back),” said senior All-American and Co-Player of the Year Kiley Mottice. “She’d say, ‘You have a target on your backs, but you guys have the power and have the talent to prove them all wrong.
“You can go undefeated and you can be the best.”
When Courtney Kaplan got to Twin Valley six years ago as head coach, she took over a squad that went 9-8 overall and 3-7 in the Berks Conference the previous year. Few could imagine that by 2022 Twin Valley would be 25-2 and seriously challenging Archbishop Carroll in the state finals.
But by 2021 Twin Valley was Berks County champion, 25-2 and good enough to give Carroll a scare in the PIAA semifinals. and reached the PIAA semifinals.
“Our success came from building culture and nurturing the players’ love for the game,” said Kaplan. “We have girls who do not play club and aren’t looking to play in college, yet they are working all year long in the gym and coming to open play because they love playing with their friends and having success on the field.
“We got to the finals because we value all of our players and the strengths they bring. We had extraordinary leadership from our seniors starting from their freshman year. Their attitude, work ethic, and ability to hold each other accountable, put our team on the map.”
Twin Valley was determined to take some extra steps in 2022. In 2021 the Raiders fell to York Catholic in the District 3 final; this year they defeated York Catholic, 14-13, for the crown. Then in states, Twin Valley reached the finals by defeating Catholic league power Cardinal O’Hara and last year’s finalist, Strath Haven.
“I believe we have had success because we have girls who play unselfishly and we have 7 girls on attack who can score,” said Kaplan. “You take one away, no problem, we have others who can get the job done! Defensively, they all work together and support each other and we have been very lucky to have the goaltending that we have had.
“Over the years, we constantly evaluate what worked and what didn’t and made adjustments. For instance, last year, we got to the district finals and state semifinals and let our heads get in the way. So this year, we focused on our mental toughness and much more situational play. Along with that, every year we tighten up our schedule looking to play the toughest competition so that the girls feel pressure early on. We saw great results from those adjustments this year.”
In the final against Carroll, Twin Valley had a 6-4 lead in the first half and was shutting down Co-Player of the Year Kiley Mottice. Carroll’s relentless pressure was too much to overcome, but the game remained close to the end.
“We knew we had to contain their top scorers,” said Kaplan. “I thought we did a good job against Mottice throughout the game, but unfortunately (Emma) Talago had her way against us. With such a strong offense though, our defense knew they had to help each other and slide a lot.
“Unfortunately, the second half draws were not going our way and they were able to hold on to the ball for the last 8 minutes. It was a tough loss, but I am so proud of what we accomplished. The most gratifying thing as a coach to hear was that the girls were more heartbroken that the season was over and they wouldn’t be able to play together instead of the loss. This was by far the most special group of girls I have ever coached.”
One special senior was Anna Kaplan, the coach’s daughter and a Phillylacrsse.com Honorable Mention Player of the Year. She said having her mom as coach was never a problem and believes few could have lifted the program to these heights so quickly,
“It was amazing having my mom as head coach!” she said. “She has taught so much and prepared me for college. Getting to spend all that time with her allowed us to grow super close and she is my best friend.
“She brought out the team’s potential and knows where everyone on the team fits best out on the field. She is a fantastic leader and she knows how to read the field and opposing team to decide match ups and what plays to run. She brings so much energy and fun to our team and I couldn’t ask for a better coach.”