WESTTOWN—It was do or die time for both No. 7 Abington and No. 5 Rustin. The winner of Thursday’s District 1, Class 3A girls lacrosse game would see its season extended with a berth in the PIAA Championship Tournament. The loser was going home, the season over far too soon.
With just 4:11 to play, the Golden Knights’ Jess Ciarrochi set up on a free possession, and rifled a shot past Abington (18-6) goalie Lauren Van Buren to break an 8-8 tie, and then Rustin (17-4) ran out the clock to pick up a 9-8 victory to advance to the states as the seventh seed from District 1.
“The girls really deserve this,” said Rustin coach Mike St. Clair. “The seniors have worked really hard for four years for this. The whole team, my coaching staff included, has worked hard for this. They deserve to be going where we’re going.”
The Golden Knights jumped out in a hurry, with Ciarrochi, Skyler Demis and Tina St. Clair all scoring goals over the first 13 minutes of play to mount a 3-0 lead before Abington worked its way back in.
Abington began to work the ball into its star, Sam McGee, and McGee nearly single-handedly brought the Ghosts back into it, notching three quick goals in a matter of barely two minutes. When Cathy Staerk scored a little over a minute after McGee’s last, Abington had its first lead of the game, 4-3.
The scoring spree was helped along in no small part by the Ghosts suddenly dominating the draw controls, with four straight going their way. At that point, it looked like the Ghosts might simply have the better team.
“I’m blunt—I think we are the superior team,” said Abington Coach Amanda Kammes. “Player for player, I don’t think it compares—we have at least four girls on this team that are going to be playing Division I college lacrosse. I’m not trying to be disrespectful—we were both fighting for the seventh seed, but we really beat ourselves today.”
After Abington went up 5-3 on a goal from Sam Simon, the rest of the half was Rustin, who sent the game to the break tied 5-5 on scores from Kylie Videon and Michelle Chesock.
Rustin made some defensive adjustments in the second half, much more aggressively covering McGee, and after McGee hit an eight meter shot with 17:23 to go to put the Ghosts up 7-5, arguably the best player on the field was silenced.
“McGee is one of the best players in the area,” said St. Clair. “She’s a dynamic scorer, and I thought the girls did a really nice job of shutting her down after she got off to a quick start in the first half. Offensively, I thought we did a nice job of moving the ball around and capitalizing on opportunities.”
The big momentum changer came with just over 13-minutes to play. Van Buren came out of the goal with the ball, and Videon came up with a steal. Darting past Van Buren to the empty net, Videon scored the easy goal to cut the lead to 7-6.
Abington managed just one more goal the rest of the way, a score from Kasey McCallister with 11:51 still on the clock. The Knights, meanwhile, put three in, including the game winner from Ciarrochi.
“I just knew I had to score,” said Ciarrochi. “I knew Sjoholm was good down low so I knew I had to go high. Knowing that we’re going to states is the greatest feeling in the world.”
Abington’s season comes to an end, but this season could foreshadow a great future.
“This is all knew to us,” said Kammes. “We’ve never been this far before. Hopefully the younger players will learn from this and be hungry to go even further.”
Abington 5 3 –8
Rustin 5 4 –9
Abington: McGee (4), McCallister, Greco, Baer, Staerk
Rustin: Videon (2), Ciarrochi (2), Chesock (2), St. Clair (2), Demis