Hagan, Carroll continue the tradition

ASTON — Cara Hagan has had interesting vantage points from which to observe Archbishop Carroll girls lacrosse.

For four years, she watched as her older sister, Marlee, a Penn State graduate, played for the Patriots and coach Lorraine Beers. For the last four years, she has been on the field as the Carroll tradition of excellence continued.

Hagan was one of the seniors who played against a Philadelphia Catholic League opponent for the last time Monday night, helping the Pats to an 11-4 decision over Archbishop Wood in the PCL playoff final at Neumann University.

“It’s been amazing to watch over the years,’ said Hagan, who will head off to Penn State three weeks after she picks up her diploma at Carroll. “Teams change and players change, but Carroll is still winning.’

The playoff title was the 15th consecutive for the Patriots, who began the streak in 2001, Beers’ second season as head coach. Carroll has played 193 consecutive games without a loss against Philadelphia Catholic League opponents.

“Cara Hagan is an unsung hero,’ Beers said. “She picks up so many groundballs and does so many others things that really help us.’

Archbishop Carroll (18-1) will play the Philadelphia Public League champion at 4 p.m. Friday at Northeast High for the District 12 championship. The District 12 winner will take on the fifth-place team from District One — Garnet Valley, Unionville, Springfield or Souderton — in the opening round of the PIAA Tournament Wednesday, May 27.

“We’ve got this thing about not getting past the first round in states that we don’t want to happen again,’ said Patriots senior Isabelle Schmitt, who scored two goals and added an assist.

She is the last of three sisters to be a part of Carroll’s playoff perfection. Hannah Schmitt just completed her collegiate career at Loyola (Baltimore) in the NCAA Division I Tournament, and Natalie Schmitt also played in the NCAA tourney this spring for Penn State. Isabelle will be at Delaware next season.

“They came at us tough and tried to get in our heads,’ Schmitt said of the Vikings. “We just wouldn’t let them.’

Archbishop Wood finished 17-4 under first-year head coach Dipi Bhaya, who coached playoff teams at Marple Newtown High and guided Archbishop Prendergast to the 1999 Catholic title before spending time coaching at Virginia Tech and Kean University. Among her strategies Monday night was to begin play with 12 field players and no goalie.

“We had seven junior starters and a first-year goalie,’ Bhaya, who teaches at Bucks County Community College, said. “We want them playing this summer and continuing to get better.

“(Carroll) continued playing hard and trying to score in the second half, but we held them off. We’ll keep working and we want to be back here again next year.’

Avery Murphy, who came to Carroll from Great Valley High last year, took her team’s first shot at the open cage, but the ball hit the post and bounced away. Not long after that happened, Casey Kerrigan took her place in goal for Wood.

“That was a little unlucky,’ Murphy said. “Not everything goes right in a game for you. But we try to play with so much energy and determination and want to make things happen.

“I haven’t been here all four years, but it’s been remarkable being with this team. This year we’d like to continue to go far (in the playoffs).’

Sophomore Sam Swart, who scored five goals in the 2014 championship game, “had a really great game,’ according to Beers.

Swart bettered last year’s title match effort with six goals Monday night.

“It’s because we all work together,’ she said. “Everyone keeps their head up and we look for each other. I’ve never been on a team that played like that.

“I talked to the seniors before the game tonight and told them all to go hard because it was the last time they’d be playing in a Catholic League game.’

Swart and the other Carroll underclassmen, including the 15 freshmen on the roster, will have their chances to work hard to try to continue the Patriots’ amazing success when the 2016 season rolls around.

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