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GIRLS’ LAX: Agnes Irwin’s First Half Defense Propels Team to PAISAA Championship

05/25/2018, 6:15pm EDT
By Angelise Stuhl

RADNOR, PA – Yesterday afternoon when the final buzzer sounded at Edith Robb Dixon field at Cabrini University, the Agnes Irwin Owls rushed the field claiming their third Pennsylvania Independent Schools’ Athletic Association girls’ lacrosse title in four years.

“It’s honestly indescribable,” said Agnes Irwin senior and Princeton University commit, Maria Pansini. “All I wanted was to win it (the PAISAA championship) senior year and we did. I’m ecstatic, I’m over the moon, I can barely put it into words.” 

The Irwins defeated the Episcopal Academy Churchwomen 12-7 in the state finale, after ending the regular season as dual Inter-Academic League Champions.

2018 AIS vs. EA PAISAA Highlight Video & Ceremonial Photos

While the close score may indicate that the game went back-and-fourth, the Owl’s defense shut down the Churchwomen in the first half. Agnes Irwin led 6-2 at the half, with senior Sydney Wolfington scoring three consecutive goals between the 11 to 5 minute marks to give her team an added cushion heading into the second half. 

“Hearing our sideline cheering so loud for us, and after we score a goal how excited we get for one another makes us all want to keep going and keep getting goals,” said Wolfington, who will be playing lacrosse at Penn State University next year.  

“We tried to work on a man-to-man defense,” said senior defender and Dartmouth College commit, Emma Macaione. “EA does a lot of picking, so yesterday in practice, and all throughout the season we really worked on how to shut down that picking game, because that’s the majority of Episcopal’s offense. I thought we did a really good job about talking through that and always getting the second slide and shutting off the cutters.” 

The second half continued in Agnes Irwin’s favor. Sophomore Natalie Pansini, junior Emily Wills and sophomore Kacy Hogarth (2) scored four unanswered goals to increase the Owl’s lead to 10-2 with 11:06 remaining in the game.

At the 10-minute mark, Episcopal found their groove, as “throwing in the towel” is not part of the Churchwomen’s demeanor. Junior Olivia Dirks and freshman Sarah Groark tallied a goal apiece to enhance the Churchwomen’s lead. Senior Katie Crager, who made EA history this past season by scoring 300 career points, added two second half goals to give her team a grand total of 7 on the afternoon.

Despite the last-minute effort, two minutes was not enough time for Episcopal to make up an 11-7 deficit. Maria Pansini added one last goal for the Irwins with 7-seconds remaining to seal the deal and to bring home another gold PAISAA trophy.

“We talked yesterday about playing good solid team-help defense because Episcopal has a lot of really great players, really good attackers and a lot of threats. It’s not just one kid that can put the ball in the back of the net. The Irwins stepped up to that challenge. Our hustle between the 30s, we caused some turnovers in the first half in defensive transition that were key to our momentum. The whole team did a really good job controlling what they can control in their hustle and it really paid off today,” said Agnes Irwin first year head coach, Lauren Wray. “I want to give credit to Episcopal. They are a great team. Every game between these two schools is a battle. So, it’s a very fun rivalry and I’m looking forward to continuing it.” 

Agnes Irwin’s Alex Hark, Sydney Wolfington, Kacy Hogarth, Pansini Sisters and Emma Macaione talk about their team’s success this season & game plan vs. EA:

AIS seniors Annie Hepburn, Alexandra Hark & Maria Pansini pass down advice to their underclassmen teammates:


2018 PAISAA Champs - Agnes Irwin Lacrosse - PSD Photo by Angelise Stuhl

See below as a few of the Irwin’s seniors reflect on their favorite team memories:

Maria Pansini, senior (Princeton Univ. commit) – “I think every time that we play in this PAISAA game, the past four years we have played EA every year, and we just step up so much. In the regular season we won by one, then we lost by two. But in this game we had that stretch, and I love that we played with so much intensity.”

Annie Hepburn, senior (United Stated Military Academy, West Point commit) – “I actually came to Agnes Irwin in the middle of my sophomore year. So, I’ve only played on the team for three seasons, but it has been the best time of my life. It was the greatest decision I’ve ever made. To win PAISAA the past two years has been awesome. Each year we kind of split half and half with EA, and to end on such a high note is so great and to finish it out with this senior class is awesome.” 

Sydney Wolfington, senior (Penn State Univ. commit) – “My most memorable moment is probably today. After four years of working so hard with my favorite team that I’ve ever played with, seeing it come together and working together just made it all so much more special.”

Emma Macaione, senior (Dartmouth College commit) – “Definitely a highlight has been winning the PAISAA championship for three years, not in a row, but three years. I think beating EA in overtime this past season is my highlight.” 


PSD Photo by Angelise Stuhl

Alexandra Hark, senior (Boston Univ. commit) – “I’d say games like this and our Lawrenceville game where we all really played together and win our games by scoring goals as a team, other than all 1v1’s. We play our best when we take our time with it and pass it around and look for the cuts. I think that’s what we did today and it really showed.” 

Episcopal Goals: 

Olivia Cunningham – 3

Katie Crager – 2

Olivia Dirks – 1

Sarah Groark – 1

Agnes Irwin Goals:

Maria Pansini – 3

Sydney Wolfington – 3

Kacy Hogarth – 3

Natalie Pansini – 1

Emily Wills – 1

Julianne Carey – 1

Tag(s): Home  Schools  Inter Academic League  Girls Lacrosse  Inter-Ac  Agnes Irwin Lacrosse  Episcopal Acad Girls Lacrosse