Warden helps Garnet Valley reach state tourney

CONCORD — Rachel Warden made two plays that saved Garnet Valley’s season Thursday at Moe DeFrank Stadium.

First, the junior defender did something in the District One fifth-place game against Springfield that she doesn’t do very often. With the score tied and the clock ticking late in the second half, Warden became the aggressor with the ball in her stick. She took a page from her big sister Haley’s book, crashing the net with the intent to do damage.

She kicked up speed around midfield and made a beeline to the net. Warden drew a hard foul and converted a free shot, sending a laser past Springfield goalie Julianne Clemons, to give Garnet Valley a lead it would not relinquish in a thrilling, 15-14 victory.

“My parents always tell me to use my speed and never give up. Since it was such a close game, I knew I had the opportunity to do something,’ said Warden, who is a Drexel commit. “With my sister (Haley, the 2014 Daily Times Player of the Year, who recently finished her freshman season at James Madison), we always go out in our backyard and work on our shots. I was definitely thinking of her there. I love doing that 8-meter shot when I get the opportunity. I definitely felt that it could be the changing moment of the game.’

It was the first one.

The victory for the seventh-seeded Jaguars (13-9) gives them fifth place in District One, and more importantly, a berth in next week’s PIAA Tournament. The Jags will look to defend their state crown beginning with a first-round game against District 12 champion Archbishop Carroll. Despite an incredible effort, No. 9 Springfield does not play again this season. Thursday’s game was a win-or-go-home battle between last year’s District One and PIAA tournament finalists.

After her goal, Warden wasn’t done being awesome, but the Jags needed some insurance. Junior Michelle Koscinski volunteered.

Koscinski took a nasty blow to the helmet, resulting in one of two yellow cards Springfield players were slapped with in the latter stages. Koscinski stayed calm, though, and somehow fired a shot into the net while falling to the cold, wet turf. The Jags had regained its largest lead of the game — two.

“I wanted to beat my defender, trying to get around her as much as I can,’ Koscinski said, laughing at the idea she got a shot off in the first place. “All of us are very good at doing that. We’re a tough team.’

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