ASTON >> The Catholic League final Monday turned into a victory lap for Samantha Swart and the Archbishop Carroll seniors.
The girls squeezed together for a group photo after a no-doubt-about-it 20-3 win over Cardinal O’Hara gave them their fourth straight PCL lacrosse title.
The Patriots (19-1) have unfinished business ahead in the Class 3A state tournament, where they’ve stumbled lately.
But that’s another story for another day.
On this occasion at Neumann University, it was much more important for Swart and the seniors to share their last Catholic League game with coach Lorraine Beers, who, incredibly has won 17 straight league titles and 216 consecutive games against Catholic competition.
“It feels awesome to be part of it,” Swart said. “Being part of No. 17 is real exciting because I want to look back some day and go, ‘17- for-17, that was me. I was part of it.’”
With all due respect, it’s every bit as likely Swart’s teammates will look back some day and say, “Sam Swart … I was part of her team.”
The indomitable senior with the coveted left-handed shot is headed to Syracuse, the nirvana of lacrosse, on scholarship.
Swart took charge in the warmups Monday, loosening teammates up with what is becoming her signature reverse-flick. Right now it’s a practice-only move.
The contest was only a few minutes old when Swart netted the first of a game-high four goals. The output helped the Patriots get a double-figures lead — and a running game clock — with 13 minutes left in the half.
“At practice we always talk about what’s the next step?” Swart said. “This was a step, obviously. And we had to focus on this game first before we get ahead of ourselves. We don’t want to be too cocky, too bigheaded. We want to be humble and classy.”
Swart is a blend of classy and competitive, having grown up in the Lehigh Valley in the tiny town of Coopersburg.
Swart said her mother wanted her “to go to Catholic School, to get a Catholic background and work together as a family.”
It all came together at Archbishop Carroll.
“When I came to this team,” Swart said, “it wasn’t, ‘she’s just a number.’ When I came here I felt welcome. It wasn’t like, ‘she’s a freshman, go get the balls, go get the water.’ It was ‘here are your responsibilities, do it.’ It wasn’t harsh. It was like a welcoming. Being told this is the job, go do it, it meant a lot to me. The little things like that, it means you’re welcome. Coach Beers definitely did that and the seniors did that when I came in.”
Swart showed she would do whatever it took to contribute through her 75-minute commute to Carroll in the morning. On a good day, she gets there “in an hour.
”My mom and dad make it work,” Swart said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have any of this.”
Swart’s talent is unquestioned. Jackie DePetris-Sexton, an assistant on Beers’ staff, starred at Carroll and later at Syracuse, from 2006-10.
Sexton grew up watching Paige Andrews, the three-time first-team All-Delco in lacrosse from 2000-02 voted the most outstanding female athlete at Carroll in 2002. Swart reminds Sexton of Andrews, which is to say fast, skilled and athletic.
“Sam will fit in so well at Syracuse with her speed, and she’s a lefty,” Sexton said. “She’s real fast and she can think quick. We knew she was going to be really good. We knew she had potential because she was fast and she already had the love of lacrosse. But she was a little raw. Now she has so much more experience. She’s a leader on the field to the other girls. Now they’re following in her footsteps. So it’s been nice to see her grow for the past four years. She’s going to be great. I’m excited to see what she’s going to bring to Syracuse.”
Swart has had her sights set on Syracuse since eighth grade. An accomplished field hockey and basketball player at Carroll, she’s giving them up to concentrate on lacrosse for legendary coach Gary Gait, who from 1993-97, played for the Philadelphia Wings of the NLL. Gait was known for his flair, including the jump behind the opposing net that ended with a dunk. Swart says there’s a sculpture of it on the Orangemen campus.
“When I go to Syracuse, I want a new move,” Swart said. “I’m always practicing the reverse flick-in. At practice, Coach Beers lets me do that all the time. I can do it now. It took awhile. I need my own move when I get there.
“But, oh my gosh, there’s tons of unfinished business here.”
Swart and the Patriots hope to take that next step in the state playoffs.
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