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Swart leads Archbishop Carroll to ‘special’ triumph over Springfield

WEST GOSHEN >> Archbishop Carroll senior Sam Swart is a uniquely gifted lacrosse player, a talent that comes around maybe once in a generation.

Everyone who plays with and against her knows it. Lorraine Beers, who has coached Swart since the fifth grade, isn’t afraid to give Swart an elite title.

“She’s No. 1,” Beers said Saturday, after she was asked where she would rank Swart among the best she’s coached on the lacrosse field. “We’ve had great players, but nobody to this caliber. And I’m going to say that all of the girls, nowadays, are a lot better than in the old days. Sam, though … she’s special.”

It made perfect sense, then, for Beers to entrust the greatest player she has ever coached to run out the clock on Archbishop Carroll’s first PIAA championship. There were three minutes, 20 seconds left on the clock when Carroll obtained possession for the last time Saturday at West Chester East High School. For more than two minutes, Swart was responsible for holding the ball, hoping that a Springfield defense that had tested her the whole day would fail in its quest to steal it from her.

Archbishop Carroll’s Sydney D’Orsogna, front, tries to regain ball possession against Springfield’s Gina DeBernardi early on in the PIAA Class 3A state title game at West Chester East. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

When the clocked erroneously stopped with 1 minute, 13 seconds to go, and with the ball in play, Swart had the wherewithal to know what was happening.

“Clock! The clock!” Swart screamed in the direction of an official as she was being chased along the Carroll sideline. Eventually, she was bumped out of bounds. The clock would tick again.

“I was looking at the clock … and I was thinking, this is the last high school game of my life,” Swart said. “I did not want to go out on a loss.”

Springfield still was able to get another crack at tying the game in the final minute. A free position shot by Julia Schickling was saved by Carroll goalie Maddie Ferraioli with 28 seconds to go. With three seconds to play, a last-ditch effort by Springfield was disrupted, thanks to the defense of Katie Detwiler, and Archbishop Carroll had finally done it.

The Patriots were state champions, defeating Springfield, 9-8, for the PIAA Class 3A title.

In their state final debut, the Patriots became the first girls lacrosse team from outside the Central League to win a PIAA title.

The Patriots (24-1) won the Catholic League championship for the 17th consecutive season under the tutelage of Beers, but there was always something missing from the legendary coach’s resume.

“As much as I wanted it for myself and my teammates, just getting it for Coach Beers — she won (Pennsylvania Area Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association) Coach of the Year the other day at the banquet — I saw on her face just how badly she wanted this,” said Swart, who netted a team-high three goals, including the game-winning tally. “The least we could do was get her a state championship. It’s perfect.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Springfield vs. Archbishop Carroll

Swart was quick to credit Springfield’s defense, which hounded her the entire game. There were two or three Cougars tracking her every move.

Freshman sensation Alyssa Long, in particular, impressed the Syracuse-bound Swart with her relentless, man-to-man coverage.

“Alyssa Long, she was great,” Swart said. “She did take away my strengths, I’ve got to give her a lot of credit.”

But not even Springfield’s lockdown defense could prevent Carroll from winning Saturday.

Archbishop Carroll’s Sam Swart, center, was frequently double-teammed Saturday against Springfield, as she was here with the Cougars’ Erika Biehl, left and Alyssa Long defending. Swart and Carroll would go on, however, to a 9-8 victory in the PIAA Class 3A state title game. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

Of course, the Patriots couldn’t have succeeded without players such as Detwiler, who did a lot of little things that won’t show up in the box score, such as securing key groundballs and causing turnovers at the most opportune times.

“It was the last play of the game and there was nothing else left to do. I knew I had to get the ball back,” Detwiler said of her pass breakup in the final seconds of regulation. “We just had so much adrenaline, this is the first time we’ve ever been in this situation. It just felt great to do it for the seniors because this is their last opportunity.”

Swart broke a 7-7 deadlock with 9:43 to play when she cut in front of the net and received a pass from Madison Henry, who was positioned behind the net. With 5:10 to go, the Henry-Swart combo struck again to extend Carroll’s lead to 9-7.

Bridget Whitaker tallied for Springfield to cut Carroll’s lead 9-8 with 4:10 left on the clock.

From there, it was a battle of attrition.

In a rematch of a thrilling regular season meeting, Carroll edged Springfield by one goal for the second time.

“Last game we had a lot of turnovers and we didn’t do a good job at protecting the ball,” said sophomore Amber Germer, who scored the game’s first goal. “We were looking to get better opportunities to pass the ball, finish our shots and play the defense we know that we can play.”

For the first half, that Carroll defense was impenetrable. Springfield had a difficult time crashing the net, and trailed by three, 5-2, at intermission.

That all changed in the second half as the Cougars (20-5) rattled off three straight tallies to tie things up, 5-5. Olivia Little netted back-to-back goals and Bailey O’Brien scored the equalizer.

After Carroll regained the lead, Olivia Pace answered for Springfield. The Cougars grabbed their only lead, 7-6, when Kristen Methlie batted in a loose ball in front of the net. The lead lasted 28 seconds.

Swart’s go-ahead goal was aided by a yellow card issued to Springfield All-Central League goalie Julianne Clemens, who was replaced by Dana Mirigliano, a freshman.

Despite falling short, Springfield showed a sense of urgency in the second half that was missing in the opening 25 minutes.

“Aren’t they amazing?” Beers said of the Cougars. “They adjusted and they had the best defense we’ve seen and they shut Sammy down. (Assistant coach) Kathleen (Geiger) and (head coach) Keith (Broome) are amazing. They have a great program. I’m really proud of our girls, because this is a legit game against a legit opponent.”

Detwiler had two goals and Ferraioli made 11 saves for the Patriots. Little scored a game-high two goals for the Cougars.

Carroll’s 2017 campaign will go down in the history books as the best ever for the program. And a perfect way for the school’s greatest lacrosse player to go out on top.

“The bond we have is so unique,” Swart said. “Once we got rolling, we felt as though we couldn’t be stopped.”

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