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Unionville comes full circle in state semifinal win over Garnet Valley

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE >> In the first game of the season, way back in the chill of March, Garnet Valley edged nearby rival Unionville, 7-6.
With the calendar now reading June, it was a much different story, on a much bigger stage.
Unionville exacted revenge on Garnet Valley Tuesday night in a 14-4 win in the PIAA Class 3A semifinal at Methacton, and landing in Saturday’s state championship game against Manheim Township at West Chester East.
“We lost to Garnet in our first game of the season (7-6),” said Unionville coach Suzanne Sheehan. “It was at Garnet Valley. And throughout the season, we knew we wanted to see Garnet again. So in our last practice, we were working on the draw, because we knew they were very strong on the draw, and working on our defense to see if we could change things up.
“One thing that changed from the first time we played Garnet was our attack. We definitely learned to be more patient and work with one another and work off one another better than we did in that first game. We had a lot of growing to do. And between then and now, we did a lot more growing.”
Unionville, 24-2, has grown enough for an opportunity to play Manheim Township Saturday at noon at West Chester East for the state championship. One reason is Erin Garvey, who scored five goals Tuesday, including three in the first half. The senior midfielder won seven draws, enabling Unionville to consistently keep Garnet Valley on defense.
“Garnet is a good team,” Garvey said. “And once they get the momentum, you don’t know what can happen.”
For Garnet Valley, Camryn Faith scored two goals and Kamryn McNeal and Regan Nealon added a goal apiece, but the Jags were unable to consistently gain possession. As it happened, that was by Unionville design.
Garnet Valley had a chance at early momentum when Faith scored within the first 4:14. When Nealon scored at 9:30, the Jags were even at 2-2. But Unionville scored the next 11, keying a speed-up option. Proving the Jags would not go easily, Kamryn McNeal and Faith scored late. But even when the Jaguars did generate offense, senior goalie Madison Doucette was difficult to solve.
“Madison is not only a great goalie at clearing the ball and saving the ball, she’s also very good at commanding our defense,” Sheehan said. “She is a great leader down there, which is certainly what we need, along with her talent in the net.”
Mauria Blair, Emma Malone and Claire Donovan scored two goals each for Unionville. Annie McDonough, Hannah Close and Mina Scott scored a goal apiece. Malone had two assists. McDonough, Veronica Hineman, Shannon Garvey and Scott furnished an assist apiece.
Kara Nealon and McNeal each provided a Garnet Valley assist.
“It all starts with the draw,” McNeal said. “You need to get possession and keep it. We were just trying to figure out how we could score and how we could keep them from scoring. So there was definitely a little bit of frustration, trying to get it together and trying to get the ball back.”
Though the game started over an hour late due to weather concerns, Unionville took command early and celebrated late. The party, they hope, has just begun.
“Yes,” Erin Garvey said, when asked if the Indians were about to win a state championship. “It’s our turn.”
As for Garnet Valley, it, too, had plenty to celebrate in a season of achievement.
“At this point, it’s sad,” McNeal said. “But I am really proud of the way we played the entire season.”

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