By: Alec Eskin
High school lacrosse will come with a lot of highs and lows throughout the year. It was a hot sunny afternoon and evening in the Delaware Valley yesterday, which makes for interesting lacrosse weather. Both the boys and girls teams were running high on emotions as they were about to face their respective opponents for the second time this year after losing in their first meetings. Both teams had also clinched spots in states as well, so the pressure was off from that perspective. However, they are still fighting for one prize: The District One Championship. The first step to doing that was beating both Radnor on the girls side and Kennett on the boys side. It would be a battle of the heavy weights, a battle of the wits, and a battle of the best. In both games, Garnet Valley came up victorious after pulling off two big upsets against #2 seeded Radnor in the girls game and #1 seeded Kennett in the boys game. Lets go into a recap of both fantastic games . . .
The girls game was one in which they were able to fight through adversity and pull out a win by a final score of 7-6 after being down 5-2 with about 2 minutes left in that half. At this point, this is where the tide started to turn, Sydney Pyon was then able to win her next two face-offs after losing five of her first six. After half, she won three of her four face-offs in the second half which gave Garnet Valley loads of possession time. Another observation during that game was that Garnet Valley had a lot of spooky turnovers on the offensive end in which they totaled three by the end of the 1st half. But, they then made some good adjustments at the half and limited themselves to just one in the 2nd. I asked Garnet Valley girls lacrosse head coach Jenny Purvis about what they did and her response was one that emphasized importance “The biggest thing we was adjust our transition instead of forcing it through Radnor defenders.” On offense, they scored two goals at the end of the half, one by Maddie Kalish on an eight meter shot and one by Kaitlyn Stankavage with one second remaining in the first half. Then, Kalish got her hat trick on another eight meter shot as she was able to use her speed to run right past her defender and score. I also asked Coach Pervis about her stellar performance “Her quickness did not match up with Radnor’s defense and burned whoever was on her.” Lastly, Stankavage scored the go ahead goal on a nice pass from Kalish and then get an insurance one on an eight meter shot. I also asked her about what she did to give herself and GV a boost on offense “After that last goal in the when I shot it where there was no time left and then brought that momentum into the second half and we are a team that thrives off of momentum and a second half team and it motivated us.” This proved to be the case for the Jaguars yesterday. On the defensive end, the GV girls team also proved to be a second half team as they only gave up one goal in that half as opposed to the five goals given up in the second half. One notable difference is that Mackenzie Butler came in for Sierra McCalighlin and she played up to the moment. She was able to generate four saves while only allowing one goal. Coach Pervis’ response as to what prompted the switch and her thoughts on Butler’s performance was very fascinating “I’m thrilled and I think that her two saves at the beginning of the second half were 100% the momentum change that we needed in order for us to continue with our momentum swing and my goalie coach made that call I’m don’t know for sure but I think one of the reason was the height difference and the ability of Radnor’s ability to hit some of those corners and I think Mac did a phenomenal job.” This is also partly to the swarming defense the entire second half by Mary Rose Berry, Lauren Bendo, and Morgan McClintock causing chaos for that potent Radnor offense. In the second half, they caused four turnovers which significantly limited what Radnor could do because then this led to a lack of possession time. Garnet Valley was able to atone for their first loss against Radnor with one of if not their most impressive win of the year in a game in which they were not favored to win.
Radnor had a nice game for the majority of the first half with a 5-2 lead after with about two minutes left to go in the first half. But, after a penalty and two face-off wins for the Jaguars, they only led by one going into the half and would not gain momentum back for the rest of the game. Radnor played a very good game overall but face-off play came back to haunt them in the second half. Without the ball, they were not able to generate much on offense and led to more Garnet Valley goals. Overall, they were very competitive to as they were shoulder to shoulder with Garnet Valley the entire game. They were outscored 5-1 from the last two minutes in the first half on. Karis Mameniskis led the way in scoring for them with two goals followed by Sally Austen, Tori DiCarlo, Cierra Hopson, and Margaret Mooney with one goal each. On the defensive end, goalie Elise Palmer had a very nice day with four saves on 11 shots. This is really good considering with that she was dealing with multiple college recruit attackers and midfielders. The defense for Radnor was also able to force four GV turnovers. Radnor will be playing at Conestoga at 4:00 PM after they were upset by #5 seeded Unionville. This game will decide the 3rd and 4th place winners in District One.
The boys game against Kennett was very similar in how the game went. They made some sloppy turnovers in the 1st quarter but then were able to fix those mistakes and kick it into high gear. They were in a eerily similar situation in their last game against Kennett, going down 4-2 after the end of the 1st quarter. Drew Keaveney woulds be a difference maker for Garnet Valley as he and his defense stiffened as the game went on. Yesterday, Keaveney had eight saves in the game. After allowing seven goals in the first half, they would only allow three in the second half. Sam Morin, Luke Shoemaker, Bear Evans, and Sean Gallagher would constantly causes wild shots or turnovers in this game. Another key deciding factor was that Garnet Valley won 75% of their face-offs. Sam Di Trolio has worked hard on improving his face-off game and it has been clearly showing down the stretch of the season. He has been much quicker getting to the ball and getting possession. This also has been showing for Sam Morin as well who has the long stick. Then on the offensive end, they looked like they had their best game of the season by far. Joey Halloran had three of the first four goals after getting himself open on backdoor cuts. Then, Max Busenkell had four goals on the day after starting to heat up in the second quarter with a variety of 15-20 meter shots. Lastly, Bishop Barnes got his hat trick to after, like Busenkell, started heating up in the second quarter with 15-20 meter shots. Opponents would stack the box against Garnet Valley to prevent them from getting backdoor cuts, and now, it looks like they have found a way around that. In the playoffs, they have average a total of 16.33 goals per game, much higher than their regular season average. A big turning point in the game for them is when Sean Gallagher had to come out of the game due to injury for a few minutes in the 4th quarter and Luke Mingioni was able to step right in and score to give the Jaguars an 11-8 lead. Then, after Kennett got too within one with 2:03 left, Garnet Valley was able to get a stop on defense and Busenkell scored the dagger goal with 12.5 seconds left. This was a game that Garnet Valley was an underdog against an undefeated team. Nevertheless, the Jaguars were able to shock the entire state with a massive win. Busenkell led the way with four goals, then Barnes and Halloran had three, then Mingioni and Brian Bradley had one each. Their experience really helped turn the tide against the then undefeated Kennett Blue Demons.
Kennett certainly did not look like the team they did against Garnet Valley in the season finale. This time around, they got a Garnet Valley team which was much harder to deal with. Their defense was decent the entire game, but they could not figure out a way to stop the trio of Busenkell, Halloran, and Barnes. Jason Astle has been one of the best goalies in District One this year as he kept making insane saves all day in which he got a total of 13. Then, on offense, Zach Hulme led the way with four goals as he was able to give himself high percentage shots. Then, Sam Forte and Evan Hartmann each had two goals. Finally, Broc Fantazzi, son of Garnet Valley head coach Rocco Fantazzi, also added on a goal and same for Colin Jung. This loss in Kennett’s first on the year after beating some of the top teams in District One including Garnet Valley earlier in the year. Kennett is one of those teams that everyone will be watching closely as this team will be one a big favorite to win in states along with Garnet Valley. They will be playing at home on Thursday at 7:00 PM against Radnor after they got upset as well by #8 seeded Springfield. This game, like the girls lacrosse game, will decide the 3rd and 4th place winners in District One.
The Garnet Valley boys lacrosse team will be playing at home at 5:30 PM against Springfield for the District One Championship. Then, the GV girls lacrosse teams will be playing right after the boys game at home at 7:30 PM against Unionville after they had previously beaten undefeated Conestoga. These games will be played in a doubleheader of District One Championship games, which rarely happens. This is the opposite scenario for yesterday in which both Garnet Valley teams have played and beaten their opponent earlier in the year. So, this should make for a very interesting and fun set of games. It would be thought that last week that the results would be closer than in the previous games. But, the exciting part about this is that you never know what is going to happen, especially in the playoffs. Both of these games will be broadcasted on the GV Athletics YouTube account, so if you want to watch online, make sure to go there! Tomorrow will be filled with a lot of nervousness, but excitement as well. I personally cannot wait for tomorrow.