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Ferraioli saves best for last, ensuring Carroll gets its due

WEST GOSHEN >> No matter how many Catholic League lacrosse titles the Archbishop Carroll girls produced, they never were around at the end of the day in the state tournament.

Heck, they were lucky if they made it to the second round.

The Patriots were perenially persona non PIAA grata, and it hurt.

But it changed forever Saturday when Carroll validated itself as a lacrosse power with a 9-8 come-from-behind win over Springfield at the 3A championship at West Chester East High.

In the process, the Patriots (24-1) broke up a Central League tradition. Central teams had won all eight girls state championships since 2009 entering the day.

The Patriots didn’t get here the easy way. They defeated the determined and disciplined Cougars as well as Central deity Garnet Valley, four-time state champs, on the way to establishing credibility.

“This is real,” Patriots coach Lorraine Beers said with a smile. “This is the PIAA, this is the state, right? It’s all good.”

All good, was an understatement. The Patriots were ecstatic in the wake of the landmark victory in 87-degree heat at Harold Zimmerman Stadium.

The noisy celebration extended from the seats, where fans backed them throughout the steamy day, to superstar Sam Swart who scored three goals, including the last two for Carroll.

Members of Carroll’s girls lacrosse team celebrate with the championship trophy after a 9-8 win over Springfield in the Class 3A final Saturday. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

The heroes ranged from Swart to senior goalie Maddie Ferraioli, who played bigger than the 5-1¾ inches, 108-pounds she carried into the game.

Ferraioli stopped 10 shots, including a free position launched from bad breath range with just 28 ticks left that prevented overtime.

“Maddie, we’re not in this without her,” Beers said. “What did she have 10 or 11 saves? And some of them were multiple, at the same time. That does everything for your team. They’re high schools girls, they’re down and up, and when she starts stopping shots, it lifts everybody up.”

Speaking of uplifting, Central League teams showed they still rule the state lacrosse world. In the morning game the Radnor girls dropped a 20-8 bomb on Kennard-Dale, from Fawn Grove, to win the newly created 2A state title.

The Springfield boys claimed their second straight state title as they beat West Chester Henderson, 9-8, in the new 2A bracket at Harold Zimmerman Stadium.

Springfield was this/close to receiving the traditional police escort down Route 420 to the high school for both its boys and girls teams.

The Springfield girls looked like toast after Grace Gallagher used a Cougar to screen goalie Julianne Clemens giving Carroll a 5-2 lead at the intermission. The face-guarding of Swart worked as they held her to one goal. But the attention impacted the Cougars at the offensive end.

When the Cougars let Swart roam early in the second half, the offensive energy was off the charts. Olivia Little scored two goals in a 3-0 flurry knotting the game and bringing the crowd to its feet.

“We’ve been a second-half team all season,” Little said. “Coming out the first half we were a little slow. The coaches reminded us at halftime we’re a second half team and we need to come out there and show that. And I think we really did what we could do. If you pass and move that’s how things happen. And we really did a good job of that.”

The Patriots wouldn’t get out of the way. When the Cougars got their first lead on a goal by Olivia Pace at 16:29, the Patriots answered and never trailed again.

There was controversy as Clemens was yellow-carded and had to leave the game for 2 minutes with 5:35 left for cross-checking Sydney D’Orsogna.

“I thought I played perfect defense,” Clemens said. “The refs obviously didn’t. She flopped. She fell and I got a card. It happens.”

Freshman goalie Dana Mirigliano came in and gave up a goal to Swart giving the Patriots a 9-7 cushion with 5:10 remaining.

After Springfield got within 9-8 on a Bridget Whitaker tally with 4:02 left, the Patriots played keep-away for all but the final minute.

With 28 seconds left, Springfield’s Julia Schickling sprinted at Ferraioli on a free position.

“I was shaking,” Ferraioli said. “I didn’t even know if my stick touched it. But I saw it and I was like, ‘I’m going to get it,’ and I just got my body in front of it. Today is my last lacrosse game ever. It ends on the best note it could. I guess this was just meant to be.”

On this day it was Ferraioli’s time.

“She saved the game,” Swart said. “Without her we wouldn’t have won.”

On this day it was Swart’s time and, forgive the pun, Beers’ time.

The Patriots are state lacrosse outcasts no more, having vindicated themselves on the 3A stage.

“My first three years, we lost in the first round of the states,” Ferraioli said. “Everyone talks about us playing in the Catholic league but no one really acknowledges all the games we play on the weekends against District 1 teams.

“Those big wins, they mean something. Now everyone knows.”

To contact Bob Grotz email; follow him on Twitter @BobGrotz



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