EAST ROCKHILL >> As she was watching film on Methacton, Pennridge girls lacrosse coach Karen Schnurr almost felt like she was watching her own team.
The Warriors and the Rams are strikingly similar, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when their District 1 Class AAA playoff game took on a run-and-gun, score a whole lot of goals style Tuesday night at Pennridge’s Helman Field. While the teams were matched in style, pace and ability to score, the Warriors seemed able to come up with a few more of the little plays that decide a game like that.
Thanks to their ability to create turnovers, get to ground balls and win the draw control, No. 21 Methacton claimed an 18-15 win over the No. 12 Rams.
“We had a great team effort tonight, everyone really turned it up,” Methacton senior Jackie Cerchio said. “They have some really good players who wanted to take it right to the net and we had to realize that and get our defense set. Our defense did a great job of stopping them and we had so many offensive players that really contributed.”
Cerchio, the Temple-bound senior, played about as impactful a game as possible, scoring three goals and assisting seven others plus taking every draw control and chipping in on the defensive end and hustling after ground balls. The win was extra special for Cerchio and her seven fellow seniors, as it was the first time they’ll advance past the first round of the district tournament.
Alana Cardaci scored eight goals to lead the Warriors with Cerchio assisting three of them while freshman attacker Sydney Tornetta bagged four goals and Julie Byrne two.
Pennridge had its share of offensive production as well. Senior Jen Rodzewich, who will be joining Cerchio at Temple, scored eight goals with an assist, senior Maddie Dachowski scored four and junior midfielder Grace Loughery had a hat-trick.
“I think turnovers were key,” Schnurr said. “We had some sloppy, silly turnovers. A bad pass behind the net, a bad pass, it was a possession game and I knew it was going to come down to the last five minutes, which it did. We were going tit-for-tat back and forth but when you make that one little small error, the other team is going to capitalize on it and that’s exactly what they did.”
It took all of 12 seconds for the scoring to start when Cerchio won the opening draw, raced down the field and fired the first shot of the game into the net. After Rodzewich made it 5-5, the Warriors scored three staight only for Pennridge to answer with three in a row.
The Rams built a 12-10 lead but a goal by Cardaci, her sixth of the first half, made it a one-score game at the break.
“It was kind of like playing against ourselves,” Methacton coach Laurie Markle said. “We have a lot of the same style of play. They have three great shooters who have beautiful shots and we just tried to slow those guys down.”
“I even said to Jen and Grace their players are just like you,” Schnurr said. “They did a lot of the same things in their plays and their defense.”
Naturally, the scoring didn’t slow down in the second half. Cerchio’s third goal, which came with 13:53 left, knotted the game 14-14 and started a three-goal Methacton run that put the Warriors in front for good.
Despite being able to take the ball and score if she had wanted to, Cerchio knew her teammates were going to be open and spent most of the game giving them precision passes in the right spot to score.
Markle called the draw controls her difference in the game and Cerchio was key in that, sending the ball straight up in the air where either she could come down with it, or one of her teammates was able to hustle to it. In the last 15 minutes, it seemed like any ball that hit the turf ended up in a Methacton player’s stick.
“Those are crucial moments, the ground balls that are anyone’s ball when it’s a one-goal game,” Cerchio said. “We were getting on them really good.”
Cerchio heaped plenty of praise on her teammates, from the attack all the way back to the defense and goalie Ava Norton. Even in a goal-filled game, both goalies made some key saves and Norton in particular had a crucial late stop with the Warriors holding a one-goal lead.
After Dachowski scored with nine minutes to make it 16-15, the Warriors slowed down the pace and played the clock as well as the Rams. With the scoreboard at her back, Cerchio said she kept turning around to check the time and with 4:13 left, she had her last assist on a beautiful pass to Tornetta.
“It’s hard to judge,” Cerchio said. “The goal may be wide open but do we want to take that risk? People start freaking out a little when someone’s coming on them, but we composed ourselves, we hustled to ground balls and if we did drop it, we got it back.”
The loss ends a successful run for Pennridge’s five seniors who contributed not only a lot of points, but many of the intangibles that aren’t easily replaced.
“I never want to say goodbye because they’ve have such a huge impact on this program,” Schnurr said. “It’s five shoes that are going to be very hard to fill this year. I am so proud of them and every thing they’ve accomplished and I know they’re going to do great things at the next level.”
Methacton faces No. 5 West Chester Rustin in Thursday’s second round and the Warriors could get a big boost for the game in the form of attacker Daria Lucchesi, who is hopeful she’ll make her return from injury.
That was part of the motivation for the Warriors Tuesday, plus the fact the seniors didn’t want to end their careers without the experience of a postseason victory.
“We all sat down and said we have to pour everything into this,” Cerchio said. “It could be your last game. At this point, you never know.”
(21) Methacton 18, (12) Pennridge 15
Methacton 11 7 – 18
Pennridge 12 3 – 15
Goals-Assists: M – Alana Cardaci 8-1, Sydney Tornetta 4-1, Jackie Cerchio 3-7, Julie Byrne 2-0, Anna Price 1-0, Katy Benton 0-1, Aubrey Hazlett 0-1; P – Jen Rodzewich 8-1, Maddie Dachowski 4-1, Grace Loughery 3-0