By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/11/22
It might not have been a perfect game, but it closed out a perfect season.
District 12 champion Archbishop Carroll overcame a slow start, rallying from a 6-3 first-half deficit to topple Twin Valley, 10-8, today at West Chester East to claim its second consecutive PIAA 2A girls’ lacrosse championship.
The win capped a 24-0 season for the Patriots, who were ranked among the top 8 teams in the nation heading into the PIAA finals. No Philly team had completed a season undefeated since the PIAA first sanctioned lacrosse in 2009.
District 3 champion Twin Valley (25-2) scored three straight goals to forge a 6-3 lead late in the first half Saturday. Hadley Munn got the first goal, then Julia Givens set up Jade Shearer and Emma Raines.
Finally, Carroll’s Kiley Mottice scored three minutes before halftime to set the score at 6-4 at the break.
“Doing that helped give me confidence,” Mottice said. “We were a little worried after what happened in the first half when we had such a slow start.
“At halftime, we knew we were better than we had shown. We just had to play better together.”
That became apparent in the opening six minutes, 50 seconds of the second half. Catie McConaghy got both of her goals, with Emma Talago (4G, 3A) and Mary Matey picking up assists. Talago also set up Brooke Hippert before McConaghy’s second score put Carroll ahead, 7-6.
Carroll gave its lead up less than a minute later. Anna Kaplan (3G), who had joined five teammates in Twin Valley’s graduation ceremonies in Reading earlier in the day, scored on an 8-meter shot and was fouled. She was awarded the ensuing draw possession and raced right back down the field for what turned out to be her team’s final score, which came with 17:22 to play.
Sophomore Brooke Wilson, who missed the opportunity to play in the state basketball tournament because of an injury, drew the assignment of guarding Loyola (Maryland) bound Kaplan.
“I had to face-guard a girl from Strath Haven in the title game last year,” Wilson said. “We saw the way (Kaplan) was taking charge of their offense, so I was put on her.”
It helped Carroll take over the game by holding Twin Valley scoreless while scoring the last three goals. Talago scored less than a minute after Kaplan as the Patriots were playing 1-up on a Raiders yellow card violation, making the score 8-8.
Mottice set up Talago seven minutes later, and after Michaela Henry’s goal, from Chloe Bleckley with 7:50 to go, Carroll put its attack on hold with its passing and running delay game as the clock continued to win down.
“We knew being defending champion meant we had a lot to lose,” Talago said. “Everybody on this team respects each other so much, and everyone had the confidence we could do this again if we kept pushing.”
Machaela Henry had two goals and four draw controls and Chloe Bleckley had two assists and three draws.
Bleckley’s sister, Ava, a junior, played during the regular season for the Pats but was not eligible for the playoffs because she transferred from The Academy of Notre Dame.
“I want for us to do this again next year so Ava can be on the field with me at the end of the game,” Chloe Bleckley said. “We’ve practiced holding the ball like we did after getting the lead today. One game we did it for six minutes. It might have been longer this time.”
Carroll coach Lorraine Beers has won three state titles since 2017.
“These kids were just awesome,” Beers said, “with the way they played together so well.”
Twin Valley coach Courtney Kaplan was proud of her team’s accomplishments. The Raiders were the first team from Berks County to reach a PIAA title game and lost only to a state champ and a state runner-up (Manheim Township in the 3A game).
“It hurts a little bit because we had it, but they’re going to be stronger for it and better for us,” she said. “Nobody from Berks County has been here. This means something. They’re super gritty and super skilled and I said, ‘You’re playing against girls that are going to be in the top D1 schools’ and I have kids coming out that don’t even play club and they’re killing it. I am super proud.”
“I can’t even explain how proud I am of my team; they are my best friends,” added Anna Kaplan, the coach’s daughter. “I don’t know what it’s going to be like playing without them.”
Archbishop Carroll 10, Twin Valley 8
Twin Valley 6-2-8
Cate McConaghy 2g
Machaela Henry 2g, 4dc
Mary Matey 1dc
Ella Eright 1dc
Emma Talago 4g, 3a
Chloe Bleckley 2a, 3dc
Shannon Wood 1a
Sienna Golden 1dc
Kiley Mottice 1g, 1a
Brooke Hippert 1g
Bridget Robinson 5 saves
Julia Givens 1g, 2a
Anna Kaplan 3g, 1a
Emma Raines 2g
Jade Shearer 1g
Hadley Munn 1g
Paige Borkowski 6 saves