WORCESTER >> Even after months of planning and weeks of postseason tests, nothing will beat the cold reality of game-day action for setting any proper game plan.
Molly May was reminded of that early Saturday.
Her four goals in a 12-8 PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse tournament victory over Gwynedd Mercy best explains how two-time defending champion Radnor advanced to the semifinals for the third year in a row.
Aware early that Monarchs goalie Sarah Holland was in no mood to surrender goals, May and the Raiders made a quick adjustment. The refreshed plan: Be precise, not reckless, with every precious shot.
“I was really focusing on faking and then shooting, and really focusing on getting the ball around the goalie, because she was really good at knowing where the ball was going,” May said. “I picked that up when we were shooting and she was saving it very easily. So I think moving and faking her really got the ball into the net.”
Directly, or with those tricky shooting techniques, the 19-5 Raiders earned a Tuesday neutral-site rematch with Villa Maria. The Hurricanes eliminated Radnor, 8-4, in the District 1 final.
Tori DiCarlo and Cate Cox each provided two goals and an assist for Radnor, which trailed, 7-6, early in the second half. Cat Belveal had a goal and an assist, and Annie Burton, Carleigh Goldstein and Ellie Mueller scored once apiece. Kate Hartnett had an assist.
For 20-5 Gwynedd Mercy, Kendall Seifert and Caroline Johnston each furnished two goals and an assist. Courtney Narkoff, who had an assist, scored, as did Peyton Palazzo, Lizzy Ferguson and Nicole Conwell.
Radnor’s Phoebe Proctor won the goaltending battle, making six saves. But Holland’s 11 saves kept Mercy involved deep into the second half on the soggy Methacton High surface.
“It is her first year playing goalie ever,” said Monarchs coach Deborah Lawlor. “She was an attack person. She kept us in the game the entire time.”
That time was about an hour longer than expected, due to a rain delay with 8:34 left in the first half that yielded complications. At one point, the Gwynedd Mercy players were under the impression that the game would be continued Sunday morning at 11 and had begun a march to the parking lot. But when officials could not convince the PIAA to agree to that postponement, the Methacton lights were turned on and the game continued.
At the time of the delay, Radnor was ahead, 4-3. After play resumed, both teams took a lead, a suggestion that neither was too negatively affected by the confusing stoppage.
“The rain delay was tough, because it’s graduation time and we’re missing a ton of parties,” Radnor coach Brooke Fritz said. “The girls all had plans. There is a Sweet 16 and all of her friends are there, and Reilly Jacobs is here. And it’s her birthday. So it was definitely a very good sort of feat for us to overcome it because it was more of a mental battle. But I am glad we got it over tonight and got it over with and didn’t have to come back on a Sunday or a Monday and play back-to-back.”
With that, the Raiders enjoyed their own party, scoring three consecutive goals to take a 9-7 lead on DiCarlo’s score with 17:55 left. But Mercy, which scored the final two goals of the first half and the first two of the second to take its 7-6 lead, responded with Palazzo’s goal with 15:39 to play, drawing within a goal.
“It was a tough game,” May said. “It was very back and forth. We were up, and then we were down, and then we got back up. The rain delay was really tough because we had to wait a while and sit down. But I think we really pushed ourselves and got through the game.”
Cox, Belveal and DiCarlo scored within the last 13:10 to open a gap and move within two victories of a state championship.
“I really think we can make it to state finals,” May said. “I think we’re strong enough, and if we have the mentality, we can get there.”