LOWER MERION >> When Merion Mercy defeated Bonner & Prendergast in the second round of the 2016 PIAA Class 2A field hockey tournament, senior Caroline Steller scored the first goal of the game.
Steller had the honor of getting the goal that started the host Golden Bears (12-7) on their way to a 12-9 victory over Penncrest (8-11) in the opening round of the PIAA District One Class AA girls lacrosse tournament Wednesday afternoon.
Fourth-seeded Merion will take on No. 5 Bishop Shanahan, a 14-9 first-round winner over Upper Perkiomen, in a district quarterfinal match Saturday. The winner will qualify for the district semifinals and will be one of four teams that will participate in the PIAA Class AA Tournament.
“Field hockey was so much fun,” Steller said, referring to Merion Mercy’s run to the state final, in which the Golden Bears bowed to District 3 champion Donegal.
“Kaely (Lyle), Allie (Scannapieco) and I were teammates then, and it’s been fun playing together now and trying to make it to the state tournament in lacrosse.”
Steller finished with four goals and one assist and Lyle also had four goals for Merion Wednesday afternoon. Scannapieco scored a goal and set up one of Lyle’s goals.
“We knew we were playing a team that had beaten Harriton, which was a team we had lost to,” said Steller, who will play next spring at Marquette. “We wanted to come out here today and score some goals right away.”
Steller, who needed only 22 seconds to get her first goal, and her teammates built an 11-3 halftime lead in the 90-degree heat before Penncrest rallied to hold Merion scoreless for the final 23 minutes.
“We had some trouble getting started in the first half, which really hurt us,” Penncrest head coach Robin Keevan said. “We did score six goals in the second half, but some of them were late in the game.
“We haven’t been to the playoffs in a long time. Our classes are pretty evenly divided. We’re hoping that this experience will help the ones who will be back playing next season. And we’re hoping they play this summer and try to get better.”
Steller learned lacrosse as a young player at a camp run by Springfield assistant Kathleen Geiger in Havertown. She also learned that she would prefer playing where the temperatures won’t be like they were Wednesday, which is why she chose Marquette.
“I’d rather be where the weather is colder,” she said. “Actually this was my kind of spring around here weather-wise, up until today.”
Lyle, who will play at High Point University in North Carolina, admitted she and her teammates weren’t sure what to expect from Penncrest.
“We just wanted to come out hard in the first half and play our offense,” she said, after getting her four goals in the opening 25 minutes. She also helped her team to offensive domination with nine draw controls.
Senior goalie Marycate Markey matched her Penncrest counterpart, junior Corryn Gamber, with 13 saves.
Markey picked up eight saves in the second half, when Merion Mercy was outshot, 17-6.
“It’s good to have a big lead,” the Old Dominion commit said. “But sometimes you stop playing like you had been when that happens.
“Each day my teammates shoot on me like they would in a game, and that’s what helps me get better. My mom was one of the coaches when I played at Waldron (Academy) in eighth grade, and she was the one who told me I was going to be a goalie.”
Merion junior defender Marcella Nostrant grew up with the game of lacrosse, following older sister Oliva (now at High Point) to Merion. Their father, John Nostrant, is athletics director and varsity head lacrosse coach at The Haverford School.
“Our defense played well, and communication was a very big thing for us today,” Marcella Nostrant said. “We were constantly talking, and our slides were there when we needed them.”
In other Class 2A action:
Radnor 17, St. Basil 1 >> A total of 13 players scored as the third-seeded Raiders jumped out to a 16-0 halftime lead and never looked back. Cate Cox paced the attack with three goals and six assists. Julianna Puckette added two goals and one assist.
Radnor hosts sixth-seeded Pope John Paul II Saturday in the quarterfinals. The Golden Panthers eliminated Del Val champ Chichester, 18-3.
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