LOWER MERION >> An admittedly emotional person, Lizzy Ferguson was a bit surprised she hadn’t started crying once the final horn sounded.
Instead, the Gwynedd Mercy Academy junior was feeling the same thing all her teammates were. While their season was over, the way the Monarchs ended it, nearly erasing a seven-goal deficit, had them all feeling a lot of pride in how they had played.
In the end, Bishop Shanahan did what it had to do, winning a pivotal final draw control and burning the last 2:36 of game clock as the Eagles held off GMA 12-11 in their PIAA Class AA girls lacrosse quarterfinal Saturday at Harriton High School.
“I’m an emotional person, I expected to cry, even happy tears at least but you just can’t be sad about that, we caught up from 12-5,” Ferguson said. “I have incredible teammates, I have to give credit to our middies, they busted their butts the entire time up and back. I just love my teammates and this is a good way to end the season if we weren’t going to have a win.”
The Monarchs spent the last three days practicing defense and coach Deb Lawlor felt the attack suffered a bit because of it. While the game started as a back-and-forth slugfest, the Monarchs were a little too sloppy with the ball and forced a few too many shots which allowed the Eagles to take a 5-3 lead.
After Danielle Senour scored to make it 5-4, Shanahan scored twice in the final 21 seconds of the first half on goals by Kaela Smith and Alyssa Manley to make it 7-4 at the break. Ferguson said those two goals were a little deflating for GMA and when the Eagles scored the first three goals of the second half, they felt defeated.
For Shanahan, it was a case of how the whole season has gone.
“We are definitely a second half team,” Eagles coach Laura Capuano said. “The defense was a little quiet and Gwynedd Mercy was dictating our defense a little bit. In the second half, we came out and took a little more risk. Once we got our bearings, we had a couple of key plays, interceptions and knock-downs where we were able to stop them so we started dictating to them and had the momentum.”
Hailey Durkin scored to make it a 10-5 game, but Shanahan came back on two goals by Manley, the second assisted by Smith, to push the edge to 12-5 with 16:08 left in the game.
“I think a lot of us got discouraged a little bit, we were tired, it was hot but that shouldn’t be an excuse,” Ferguson said. “To come back and hold them scoreless for 16 minutes, my teammates really stepped it up.”
Durkin netted her third goal of the game with 13:28 left, making it 12-6 with Shanahan then calling a timeout.
“We had a player asking for some water, we had two timeouts so we figured let’s use one just to give them a rest and some water,” Capuano said.
The timeout had a very unintended consequence of letting Gwynedd Mercy get on a roll. To Ferguson, the rally really started out of that stoppage. She scored three of the next four goals as the Monarchs chopped the lead down to 12-10 with 7:05 left.
During the spurt, Shanahan goalie Jess Gorr had an incredible sequence to help her team out. Gwynedd had caught Gorr out of the net, so Seifert took a rip only to have Gorr leap into the air and with her stick fully extended behind her, get a piece of the shot.
The sophomore net-minder wasn’t done there, getting back to her feet and recovering to the cage in time to stop a follow-up shot by Brie Daly.
“That was awesome,” Capuano said. “That’s Jess. She’ll take those risks, she’s sneaky, she’ll come out of the net. She’s very patient and will try to read the attack and she just knows when to make the calculated risk and it paid off. We feed off of that.”
Granted, Gwynedd Mercy forced a turnover and scored off the ensuing possession but in what ended up being a one-score game, it was defining moment. Lawlor also gave Gorr recognition for the effort.
“She was airborne, gets up after we get the ball and Brie Daly takes another shot and stops that one too,” Lawlor said. “I have to give the goalie props for that.”
Seifert scored her second goal of the game to get Gwynedd within 12-11 with 2:36 to go. On the draw, Monica Manley was able to get the ball to Erin O’Donnell and the Eagles spent the rest of the game passing, moving and keeping it away from an aggressively chasing Monarchs team.
“We had to focus on the basics and taking care of the ball, the girls didn’t give up and fell back on their basics and really worked hard to control the game,” Capuano said. “It was all about possessing the ball. Gwynedd did a nice job of coming back but our girls did a nice job to hold it together.”
Bishop Shanahan will take on Radnor in the semifinals, a rematch of the District I title game, next Tuesday.
While the Monarchs’ season ended, the team was all smiles and positivity once the game ended. Lawlor greeted them halfway off the field and immediately told the players how proud she was of what they had done.
Gwynedd returns plenty next year and as the players belted out the chorus to Toto’s hit “Africa,” Lawlor smiled with pride.
“I can’t explain it,” Lawlor said. “Those girls make me a better coach because they make my job easier. They know my expectations, I don’t have to waste a lot of time on my daily checklist, everything’s done. If everything’s done, then you go up a notch.”
BISHOP SHANAHAN 12, GWYNEDD MERCY ACADEMY 11
Gwynedd Mercy Academy 4 7 – 11
Bishop Shanahan 7 5 – 12
Goals-Assists: GMA – Hailey Durkin 4-0, Lizzy Ferguson 3-0, Kendall Seifert 2-2, Bridget Beck 1-2, Danielle Senour 1-0, Brie Daly 0-1; BS – Alyssa Manley 3-0, McKenzie Staska 3-0, Kaela Smith 2-2, Abigail Cooper 2-0, Jess Holowsko 1-1, Erin O’Donnell 1-0.
Top Photo: Gwynedd Mercy’s Emma Fiore tries to hold on to the ball during the PIAA Class AA quarterfinal against Bishop Shanahan on Saturday, June 3, 2017. Behind Fiore is Brie Daly and to her right is Kendall Seifert. Bishop Shanahan players are Hannah Tronoski, Goalie Jessica Gorr and Abigail Bailey. (Anne Neborak/Digital First Media)