Royersford – Radnor rolled to a 13-6 win in its PIAA 2A state tournament opener against York Catholic Tuesday at Spring-Ford High School – but first slogged through a sluggish first half.
Coming off a District 1 2A championship earned five days earlier, Radnor found itself tied with York Catholic, the third-place finisher from District 3, at halftime, 5-5.
“We came out a little flat in the first half,” said Radnor head coach Brooke Fritz. “A lot of our players had played in the National Tournament last weekend, and with the slippery (wet) surface today, they had a hard time getting their legs moving in the first half. And York Catholic was doing a good job of pressuring us. At halftime, I told our players that they had to mentally get their legs back, and they would be fine.”
Three minutes into the second half, Radnor senior attack Hope Smith scored to put Radnor ahead for good, then Red Raider sophomore attack Cate Cox fired in a left-handed rocket to give the District 1 2A champions a 7-5 lead. Slowly but surely, Radnor kept adding to its lead the rest of the game.
With the victory, Radnor advances to the second round of States, where they will face Villa Maria Academy, the third-place finisher in District 1.
Fritz said, “Our players did a good job of not getting their heads down at halftime, and their work ethic was good.
“In the second half, our off-ball movement and pathing picked up.”
Radnor kept York Catholic off the scoreboard for the first 20 minutes of the second half. Radnor senior goalie Alexa Solomon (10 saves, two interceptions) proved a tough nut for the Irish to crack in the second half, and the Red Raider defense similarly presented a hard wall to penetrate after halftime.
Radnor freshman attack Ellie Mueller’s goal with 14:14 left put the Red Raiders up 8-5, then Massimino scored with an assist from Cox (her fourth assist of the contest) to put the Red Raiders ahead 9-5.
After York Catholic scored its only goal of the second half with 5:37 to play, making the score 9-6, Radnor senior attack Julianne Puckette weaved through the Irish’s defense to score 38 seconds later, giving the Red Raiders a 10-6 lead.
Mueller fired in her third goal of the game with 3:39 left (with an assist from Massimino) to put Radnor ahead 11-6, and the Red Raider freshman scored her fourth goal of the game with 48 seconds left.
It was an exciting PIAA state playoff debut for the Radnor freshman, who combined with seniors Puckette and Massimino for all but two of the Red Raiders’ goals.
“Our pace picked up in the second half,” said Mueller. “We had some trouble in the beginning – we were a little low, a little flat in the first half, turning the ball over in transition, but at halftime we talked about what we needed to do, and we played better in the second half.”
In the final two minutes of the game, Mueller and Puckette each scored their fourth goal of the contest. Puckette also won five draw controls. Meanwhile, Radnor kept York Catholic off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
“Our defense is one of the best,” said Mueller. “Alexa [goalie Alexa Solomon] knows how to get our defense going, and Nicole [Massimino] does a great job communicating with our defenders.”
Massimino scooped up four ground balls in addition to scoring three goals.
Radnor 13, York Catholic 6
York Catholic 5 1 – 6
Radnor 5 8 – 13
York Catholic goals: Mullen 2, China, Pokrivka, Feder, Mayer.
Radnor goals: Puckette 4, Mueller 4, Massimino 3, Smith, Cox.
Goalie saves: Solomon ® 10, Lake (Y) 8.