EXETER TWP. >> Prior to its PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal game Saturday, the Garnet Valley girl lacrosse team attended the fifth and final Kip Taviano #10ve Lacrosse Celebration in Glen Mills.
During warm-ups and following their convincing 17-7 romp over District 11 champion Parkland, the Jaguars all donned #10ve T-shirts. Kip Taviano, a standout lacrosse player at The Haverford School, was killed in a car accident days before his graduation in 2013.
For one member of the Garnet Valley team, the event has special meaning.
“Emma (Taviano, Kip’s younger sister) is a senior on our team and the whole Kip Taviano event is really special to our group,” GV coach Jenny Purvis said. “They’re all so passionate about it. “
Despite a lengthy weather delay, the Jags carried over their enthusiasm and were ready to go against Parkland. They looked nothing like the team that needed overtime to defeat Parkland in the regular season.
“Our whole team was there for the Kip Tav event, and coming there from that … it’s something we like to do every year,” junior Regan Nealon said. “It always falls on this day, the state quarterfinals. I think coming from there, it gives us a little more fire for our game.”
The Jaguars never let their guard down Saturday, putting on a textbook display of Garnet Valley girls lacrosse, and advanced to the semifinal round of the state tournament. The District 1 champions will face a familiar foe in District 1 third-place finisher Unionville, which disposed of District 12 and defending PIAA 3A champion Archbishop Carroll Saturday.
“We were pumped up in the locker room and I think we came out ready to play,” said Nealon, who had four goals and one assist. “Last time we played them we went into overtime with them, so we really want to come out here and show them we are the better team. We wanted to crush them.”
This victory Jaguars (16-2) was never in doubt.
“We’re on a roll right now,” Nealon said. “The last two years we lost in the semis, so we don’t want to have that happen for a third year in a row.”
The match got off to an inauspicious start for Parkland when senior attacker Irene Lee was whistled for a yellow card, enabling the Jags to pounce with the man advantage. Kamryn McNeal scored the first of her four first-half goals to give GV a 1-0 lead.
“Since the beginning of the season, we really got better at working together and moving the ball around. It’s really starting to show at this point in the season,” McNeal said. “We’re excited to see how far we can go. At this point in the season we’re doing really well and I honestly cannot believe how successful we’ve been.”
Parkland (19-7) stayed within striking distance for the first 10 minutes. Jill Bushinsky’s tally 10:25 into regulation cut GV’s lead to 3-2. That’s as close as Parkland would get.
The first half essentially was the Kamryn McNeal-Reagan Nealon-Riley Delaney show. All three took turns sharing the goal-scoring responsibilities, with help from Madi McKee, who dominated on draw controls, and Kara Nealon. McNeal, The Jags tallied nine of the final 10 goals of the opening half. They found the back of the net twice in the waning seconds, first off a Kara Nealon shot, then McNeal scored on a free position with five seconds to go to give GV a 12-3 cushion.
The Jags thrived on attack and got a slew of players involved. McNeal (two assists) and Regan Nealon (one assist) each posted four goals. Delaney added a hat trick and one assist, while McKee chipped in with two goals and a pair of helpers. Kathryn Toohey netted two goals and Kara Nealon pitched in with a goal and three assists.
Senior goalie Sam Hamalak made fives saves in the cage.
“I think it shows that … we have a lot of options and we’re not a one-trick pony,” Purvis said. “Any one of those seven girls on offense can score and anyone can cause a turnover. I love it when the stat sheet is spread out, like it was today, because it shows that we have such good balance.”
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