Unionville falls to powerful Garnet Valley

By Harry Chaykun

Haley Warden and Dana Davis went through the highs of championship seasons at Garnet Valley during their freshman and sophomore seasons. Then came an early playoff exit last year.

That might help explain why both played with plenty of motivation as the Jaguars opened the 2014 season with a 16-12 decision over visiting Unionville at Moe DeFrank Stadium Friday afternoon.

“What we went through at the end of last season,” Warden said, “is why we wanted to pick up our intensity to start this season. It’s my last home opener, and I’m not all that sad about that. I just wanted to play and to win.”

Warden “took it easy” because of a sore foot through the two weeks she practiced with the lacrosse team after Garnet Valley’s basketball season ended in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA Tournament. She scored three goals in each half and assisted on one of Davis’ three tallies Friday. All of this came after the Jaguars season got off to a disappointing beginning.

Garnet Valley fell behind, 2-0, in the opening minute, as Unionville connected on its first two shots.

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“We had that slow start before we realized we actually were playing a game,” Warden said. “We weren’t winning draws, and possession means everything. For a while there, it seemed like whoever won the draw was going to go down and score. And they were winning more than we did.”

Midfielders Warden and Davis and defenders Nova Ward, Katie Stec and Molly Savage were among the members of the Garnet Valley defensive unit that pulled things together despite challenges from the Unionville attack. The Indians got three goals from junior Katie Garvey and two each from senior Rachel Hughes, junior Quinn Benintende and sophomore Kacie Breeding.

“I’m happy with the way our defense fixed things that needed to be fixed,” second-year GV head coach Jenny Purvis said. “Our transition game set the pace, and our offense did what it needed to do.”

One second-half play demonstrated what Purvis was talking about. Ward gained possession and started toward the sideline, looking for a midfield connection. As her coached cringed a little at the pass that was made, Ward put the ball in the stick of soph Kara Nakrasius (one goal, one assist), who found freshman Madi O’Brien beyond the restraining line. O’Brien finished the play with her second goal of the game.

“All of them have worked very hard over the last three weeks,” Purvis said. “They made sure they approached the idea of fitness correctly. We want to be a strong team in the second half, and if you’re fit you can do that.”

Davis, who is headed to Robert Morris University to study nursing and play lacrosse, scored her three goals in the first half. She put Garnet Valley ahead 30 seconds before the break, and Warden made the score 9-7 with a goal 11 seconds before halftime.

GV added the first three goals of the second half, with Warden getting the second and third. Davis assisted on the goal that gave the home team a 12-7 lead.

“You know you can set the tone for the season in your first game,” Davis said. “You play hard each practice, and you play hard in your games. We’ve talked about this game ever since last season ended (with a loss to Strath Haven that kept the Jags out of the state tournament).”

The talk can now focus on the Central League. Garnet Valley opens league play at Strath Haven Tuesday night.

“You know that even though it’s early, and it’s still cold outside that that will be a big game for both of us,” Purvis said.

Unionville 7 5 – 12
Garnet Valley 9 7 – 16

Unionville: Katie Garvey 3G 1A, Rachel Hughes 2G 1A, Quinn Benintende 2G 1A, Kacie Breeding 2G, Emma Walter 1G, Cassie Blair 1G, Jillian Zubillaga 1G.

Garnet Valley: Haley Warden 6G 1A, Sabrina Fusco 3G 1A, Dana Davis 3G, Madi O’Brien 2G, Emily Mathewson 1G 2A, Kara Nakrasius 1G 1A.

Saves – Unionville: Hadley Mottola 4; Garnet Valley: Paige Mitros 4.

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