Abington poised for future despite District 1 loss to CB South

ABINGTON — As Abington girls lacrosse coach Mary Kate Lomady addressed her team for the final time this season, she had a few messages to relay.

She told her team it didn’t deserve the final outcome of its District 1 first round game against Central Bucks South, an 18-8 setback Tuesday afternoon at Memorial Field. But she also let her team know its performance in the second half was not acceptable, especially after the Ghosts had made so many strides during the season to reach that point.

As the first Abington team to reach the postseason in eight years, it wasn’t the right way to end things. But with just three starters set to leave, it could also be the first step toward a brighter future.

“We’re a really young team but everyone realized how good we got,’ Abington junior captain Rachel Morris said. “We realized we could win our conference and we were so close. I think everyone had the confidence to do it this year.’

The team is loaded with juniors and sophomores who are bristling with talent. It’s fair to argue the team’s best players are in its sophomore class, especially on the offensive end with Sam McGee, Casey McCallister and Juliana Greco.

Last season, the Ghosts went 11-6 under Lomady in her first year. The team improved on that this year, but as Lomady put it, there were still “growing pains.’

“We did grow, but we weren’t as consistent this year,’ Lomady said. “There were so many great moments, so many glimpses of their talent. It’s just a really talented group.’

Tuesday, the Ghosts showed that talent in the first half. They also showed some of that inconsistency before it overwhelmed them in the second half. Abington led the game 6-5 at the break thanks to a hat trick by McCallister and two goals and an assist from McGee.

After halftime, the Titans, who lost in the first round last year, took over. Sarah Poli (nine goals, assist) and Courtney Dietzel (four goals) were unstoppable as CB South ran off 12 straight goals.

Included in Lomady’s postgame breakdown was a message that there was too much head-dropping by the Ghosts and not enough fight. She told her players it wasn’t the identity they had crafted all year.

“What they can take out of today is they need to fight harder,’ Lomady said. “They can’t die like they did today. They stopped trying. A lot of our wins came easy this season and I think that hurt us.’

Overall, Abington loses seven seniors including Jeannie Van Buren, who often led the offense in scoring. Their leadership was instrumental in setting up the Ghosts for success.

Now it’s on the next generation to continue it.

“I’m only a junior but I’ve never been in the playoffs so this was exciting,’ Morris said. “It’s been eight years since Abington girls have been in the playoffs so I’m excited for this team and for next year.’

Morris also noted that when the team started to get down against CB South, it spiraled and affected them on the field. Finding ways to keep positive even through bad moments was something the junior captain pointed to as a big point for next year.

Having gotten her first postseason experience, Morris wants more. But she also wants to make sure it becomes an expectation rather than a bonus. With her younger sister Rebecca a freshman on the team, Rachel wanted the younger players to become part of rebuilding the program.

“They’ve really caught on to the whole idea of a team bonding,’ Morris said. “They’re the ones who really keep everyone pumped up.’

Lomady mentioned improving the schedule as an offseason focus, giving the Ghosts more playoff-type games can only help them take the next step.

It’s not only the players who are motivated. The coaching staff is fully invested, as evidenced by the emotion Lomady showed in her team address. It’s only been two years, but she and her assistants have connected with their players.

Morris said the team came together under the coaches this year and she felt they were as big part of the team’s success as the talent on the roster.

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