WEST CHESTER – Big plays. Little plays.
Add them together, and you’ll compose a good team. Sprinkle in a few amazing plays, and you might get yourself a champion.
Like, for instance, Archbishop Carroll girls’ lacrosse squad.
On a picture-perfect afternoon at West Chester East High School on June 10, the Patriots edged Springfield (Delco), 9-8, to win their first-ever PIAA 3A state title. The riveting affair induced nerves throughout both sidelines and left a boisterous crowd emotionally spent.
“I’m proud of the girls,” said head coach Lorraine Beers. “I’m proud of the school. This is amazing.”
Participating in their first state championship after having earlier captured the Catholic League title for the 17th consecutive season, Carroll seized a 5-2 halftime lead before a 5-1 Springfield spell gave the Cougars (20-5 overall record) their only lead at 7-6.
Undaunted, the Patriots (24-1) tied the game at 7-7 on a goal by junior Sydney D’Orsogna. Then came the Sam Swart show.
The Syracuse University-bound senior standout gave Carroll an 8-7 lead with 9:43 left in regulation and then tallied what proved to be the game winner with 5:10 remaining, her third goal of the afternoon. Swart’s final two goals were assisted by sophomore Madison Henry.
Springfield then closed to within 9-8, setting the stage for a nail-biting final 4:02.
“Being a senior, this is incredible,” said an ecstatic Swart, speaking a mile a minute. “It’s amazing. It’s a great way to end it.”
Inside the final minute, Springfield twice gained possession. Its first ownership was interrupted by brilliant stick work by sophomore Liza Dellarata, who said she wasn’t nervous toward the end.
“I had full confidence in our defensive abilities,” she said. “They’re a great team. We just played better today.”
The second was thwarted by a terrific save by senior goalie Madelyn Ferraioli, who described her heroics as “slow motion . . . I can’t even describe it.”
The diminutive Ferraioli praised her defense.
“They’re incredible,” she said. “They always have my back. They’re always positive. They’re like, ‘You got this.’”
In addition to the three goals by Swart and one by D’Orsogna, Carroll also received two goals from junior Katie Detweiler and one each from junior Rachel Matey, junior Grace Gallagher, and sophomore Amber Germer.
“I knew there was a job to be done,” said Detweiler. “I knew everyone would put their heart into it. We wanted this for so long.”
Beers, Carroll’s coach for the past 18 years, doesn’t look at Carroll as a fluke.
“It’s always matchups,” said Beers. “It’s always about the brackets. The last two years we played the (eventual) champs in our first round. So, we’re playing the state championship in the first round of the PIAA. I don’t know much more you can say about that. We’ve been in the state championship for a number of years. This is our win.”
Beers extolled assistant coaches Jess Lake and Peter Hewitt. The former mentors the defense; the latter, the goalies. Beers concentrates on the attack.
“We have great athletes,” said Beers. “They just needed coaching and teaching. We teach. You get a lot of good athletes and add in some good coaches and teachers, and this is what can happen.”
Goalie Ferraioli noticed her team’s steady improvement over the past four years.
“Every year, we were getting better,” she said. “This year is like, ‘Wow! We did it.’”
(John Knebels can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)