WEST GOSHEN — Emily Games had just scored four goals to help No. 2 Radnor advance to the semifinal round of the District One girls lacrosse tournament. The junior is one of the top attack players on the squad, and her performance Saturday at West Chester East High School was exactly what the Raiders were looking for.
At the end of the day, however, the onus was on the Radnor defensive unit, which was excellent in a 12-9 quarterfinal-round triumph over No. 7 Garnet Valley.
The defense, consisting of Katy Junior, Nicole Massimino, Lindsay Frumer, Lindsey McShea, Morgan Gryga, Allison Lanzone and Kerry Hamill, forced Garnet Valley to hurt itself. The Jaguars (12-9) committed 14 turnovers, seven in each half.
“We made turnovers, too, so we definitely had to capitalize on their mistakes,’ Games said. “I think we did pretty well on the defensive side, trying to get the ball and force them to turn it over. It worked.’
“It’s definitely our strength,’ coach Brooke Fritz added. “We’re tenacious all over the field and that’s sort of what we take pride on.’
The spectacular effort by their defense masked the Raiders’ struggle on the draw. The Jaguars, led by All-Delco Emily Mathewson, won possession from the circle on 17 occasions. Radnor gained control of the draw just six times.
“Emily Mathewson must had about double digits (draw controls),’ Fritz said. “The fact that we can come out winning the game, and we have to play backcourt most of the time, is definitely a testament to our defense.’
As a result of the possession disparity, Garnet Valley had plenty more chances to score. But the scoreboard at halftime read 4-4, a clear indication that defense had stolen the show. It was shaping up to be a carbon copy of the teams’ first meeting March 24, a game the Raiders were able to win in come-from-behind fashion, 10-9.
“We always try to play our best against Garnet,’ Games said. “In the beginning of the year, we only beat them by one, so we wanted to come out a lot stronger to show them that we’ve improved a long way as a team. That’s what kind of happened in the beginning. We wanted to start out really strong, and our defense definitely stepped up for us.’
Games gave the Raiders (19-1) a 3-2 lead in the first half and moments later Games fed a pass to Nicole Massimino, who fired the ball past Makenna Mink, the goalie for the Jaguars (12-9), to make it 4-2, 15 minutes into regulation. But the Jags stayed competitive and kept within striking distance the entire half. Madison Valerio found the back of the net to a make it a one-score deficit, and Kara Nakrasius tallied to even the score with 1:44 to go before intermission.
The wheels would start the fall off for the reigning PIAA champions in the second half as Radnor scored six of the next seven goals. Kamryn McNeal evened things up, 5-5, before Radnor ripped off five in a row. Katie Quinn put the Raiders ahead to stay.
Radnor moves to the semifinals Tuesday night at Haverford High to take on third-seeded Harriton, a 14-11 winner over No. 6 Unionville.
Lexi Kenneally contributed two goals for Radnor in the win Saturday. McNeal scored five goals, Madi Mansi added two and Nakrasius finished with a goal and two assists for the Jags, who take on Unionville in the fifth-place playback game Tuesday.
“I just think we have to keep staying focused and have a good practice on Monday and get ready for our playback game on Tuesday,’ Valerio said. “If we keep our focus and intensity up, and work on our offense, we’ll be OK. I play attack, so I know we have to keep working on our offense. We just have to keep our heads up.’