Girls lax: Downingtown West falls short of Harriton in state semifinals

By Chris Goldberg

WEST CHESTER – Harriton girls’ lacrosse coach George Dick gushes when he describes this year’s team.

“I have been coaching for a long time and had a lot of great players and a lot of really really good teams,” he said after his squad advanced to the PIAA Class AAA title game today with a 13-10 win over Downingtown West at Henderson High. “This team has something – honestly – that none of those teams have had.

“They play for everybody. We have some very very strong players but we’re beating teams that have high level Division I players and, honestly, we don’t. We have players that share the ball. You look at our defenders; we don’t have kids that some other programs have. But they play with heart; they are gritty – we battle like crazy.”

Alex Turner

Harriton will shoot for its first state title since 2013 Saturday at West Chester East when it faces Manheim Township, a 14-12 winner over Garnet Valley.

The Rams (23-2), who shared the Central League title and finished second in District 1, seized a quick 4-0 lead and never relinquished the advantage. Harriton led, 8-3, at halftime and was up, 12-7, late in the second half. But the Whippets (19-6) continued to rally and drew within the final 13-10 score with 2:56 to play on a goal by Lauren Tinson.

Due to a foul, Downingtown West had the ensuing possession but lost it on a costly turnover and Harriton stalled to ice the game.

Harriton showed great balance as the attack was led by Grace Dwyer (3G, 3DCs, 3GBs), Katelin Williams (3G), Lucy Dwyer (2G 1DC 2GBs), Allie Schwab (2G 3A), Maddie Henderson (2G, 2DCs) and Emily Stewart (1G, 3DCs, 2GBs). Alex Turner was a rock in goal with 8 saves, including 5 in the first half.

“I just think from years past there have been star players (at Harriton) and that opened up our eyes,” said Turner, a junior. “We’re one, we’re a unit and we’re going to play better than that. We’re all equals and that opened the gates to states and having a fantastic season.”

Lucy Dwyer

Turner said the game plan was to prevent the Whippets’ standouts, Corinne Bednarik (All-American), Peyton Mottice (All-American) and Emily Feeney from dominating on offense. When the teams met in the District 1 semifinals, Bednarik and Feeney had big games in a 13-12 loss to the Rams, who faceguaded Mottice that day.

Tuesday, Harriton again faceguarded Mottice (1A), but also placed more pressure on defending Bednarik (3G, 2A) and Feeney (2G).

“Last time we played them we covered Peyton and Bednarik and Feeney kind of killed us,” said Lucy Dwyer. “We had the same game plan of shutting off Peyton, but we also had close defense on the other two. At times we didn’t play close enough defense, but we held it together.”

Added Turner: “I’ve got some great strong defenders; they all come together and pressure out. “When the middies tire they pick up that slack with that extra pressure, I can make easy saves.”

Dick also credited the Harriton defense of Reilly Short, Mikayla Braver, Alexia Louca and Cara Margolis and Abby Tevis.

Dwyer said the Rams have matured as a team as the season progressed. Did she think the team could reach the state finals?

“I never really thought about it until after we played the regular season,” she said. “Coach always said, ‘The seasan isn’t over until June 8’ so as we started playing together we kind of realized how good we are. Now we are more confident.

“We all trust each other. We are all friends’ no one’s trying to be a star. It’s really fun to pass the ball and share the ball. No one’s trying to always be the scorer and everyone is happy for each other’s success.”

Bednarik, whose team rallied for a dramatic quarterfinal win over District 1 champion Conestoga, fought back tears to speak with pride about her team’s season.

“I am so proud of this team,” she said. “From the off season, weekends of getting together having a catch or hitting the wall, we have done everything we can to build the program.

“We made history last year (reaching the state tourney) and more history this year season. It gives me the chills. I am heartbroken that I can’t put this uniform on one more time.

“We put everything on the field. We don’t let up. You can’t make a mistake and turn it over in these games. This outcome wasn’t the one we wanted, but it is what it is.

“We played our hearts out.”

Harriton 13, Downingtown West 10
Harriton                          8-5-13
D-West                            3-7-10

Katelin Williams 3G
Emily Stewart 1G 3DCs 2GBs
Lucy Dwyer 2G 1DC 2GBs
Allie Schwab 2G 3A
Grace Dwyer 3G 3DCs 3GBs
Maddie Henderson 2G 2DCs
Alex Turner 8 Saves

Downingtown West
Corinne Bednarik 3g, 2a
Emily Feeney 2g
Regan Rightmire 1g
Lauren Tinson 1g, 1a
Bryn Rochon 2g
Olivia DiGiorgio 1g
Peyton Mottice 1a

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