PHILADELPHIA >> Hailey Durkin called it the full package.
More than once, Lizzy Ferguson described things as full tilt. No matter what all-in adjectives the Gwynedd Mercy Academy lacrosse team wanted to use, the point was pretty clear. This was a Gwynedd lacrosse performance.
The Monarchs started fast, controlled every aspect of the game and played with a lot of positive energy as they downed Cardinal O’Hara 17-3 in the first round of the PIAA AA tournament Tuesday afternoon at Northeast High School.
“We knew we really needed to step it up and we just went full-tilt,” Ferguson said. “We didn’t really know anything about O’Hara, which I think kind of worked in our favor. We were able to go full-tilt and didn’t have any preconceived notions about them.”
The performance was a welcome sign for the Monarchs, who came into states on a two-game losing slide. While Radnor and Villa Maria are strong teams, GMA was outscored 27-8 in those games then had the four-day weekend to get through before the start of states.
Unlike the dreary, overcast sky that more than once opened up into a light rain, GMA was full of energy and gusto and started the game not by scoring, but putting itself in position to dictate the game. The scoring came soon enough, started by Kendall Seifert’s first minute marker, but where the Monarchs really thrived was on the draw control and with ground balls.
Defensively, the Monarchs were tough and held O’Hara to just two first-half shots while continuing to pounce on ground balls and cause turnovers.
“A question to me was ‘how do you feel about that game against Radnor’ and my response was games like that make us better,” GMA coach Deb Lawlor said. “I think now I can really say that statement was true. We didn’t put all our pieces in action, but we did practice yesterday and taking components and learning from those powerful teams made us better.”
Gwynedd’s offense is at its best when the team is in transition and the players are rolling off each other’s energy. Tuesday, they had it all going on offense with seven of the goals assisted and the ball zipping from stick to stick while players cut through the O’Hara defense.
Seifert, Ferguson, Durkin and Danielle Senour were the core of the offensive production, combining for 15 goals and five assists. Seifert, Durkin and Senour each netted four goals while Ferguson had a hat-trick and three helpers.
The Monarchs led 10-0 with 3:20 left in the first half, putting a running clock in play for the entire second half and got up to 13-0 before the Lions finally got on the board.
“This was a showing of true Gwynedd lacrosse today,” Durkin said. “We always talk about being the total package on and off the field. Today we did that on the field by controlling every single aspect, draw controls, ground balls, shot selection, communication.”
“It hasn’t been that consistent all season so at practice we’ve really stressed that,” Ferguson said. “Things like the draw control and ground ball are so important so that’s what we’ve focused on and I think we really stepped it up.”
Emma Fiore provided a goal for GMA and played strong support to Senour on the draw, picking up three balls off the draw to retain possession. Courtney Narkoff scored the last goal for the Monarchs while Bridget Beck and Senour each had two assists.
The two losses going into states had GMA’s energy down, but Ferguson said Monday’s practice was high-energy and got the team back on the right track. It only took about six minutes for the Monarchs to take a 4-0 lead and show that was the case.
“We have so much fun when we’re out there,” Durkin said. “We’re laughing on the field. If anyone makes a mistake, another girl’s picking her up and making sure they’re ok.”
GMA will face Bishop Shanahan, the District 1 runner-up, in Saturday’s quarterfinal round at a site and time to be announced.
The Monarchs looked at the start of states as a fresh start, putting the two losses to end the district tournament in the past and putting their focus on starting Tuesday’s game the right way.
“We all felt like this was any other game, although it was very important, it was just any other game and if we played our game, we’d be good,” Ferguson said.
So just how good was Gwynedd feeling on Tuesday?
As the team left the field, Ferguson and a teammate brought up the rear, carrying the team’s portable speaker it uses for warm-ups. Blaring out of the sound system was Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”
“We didn’t have any doubts in our mind,” Durkin said. “We came out here and played our game. We knew we could win and that’s carrying us further in the state playoffs. We’re on a good roll right now.”
GWYNEDD MERCY ACADEMY 17, CARDINAL O’HARA 3
Gwynedd Mercy Academy 10 7 – 17
Cardinal O’Hara 0 3 – 3
Goals-Assists: GMA – Danielle Senour 4-2, Hailey Durkin 4-0, Kendall Seifert 4-0, Lizzy Ferguson 3-3, Emma Fiore 1-0, Courtney Narkoff 1-0, Bridget Beck 0-2; CO – Molly Grady 1-0, Julia Ferraiolo 1-0, Ana DiRita 1-0, Calti Camuti 0-1