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Villa Maria rolls to convincing win; Walheim scores 100th career goal

EXETER >> Saturday was an emotional day for the eight seniors on Villa Maria’s lacrosse team.
Bella Bucci, Sophia Crossed, Sara Delaney, Paige Demutis, Adele Iacobucci, Mollie Shrader, Rachel Velluato and Abby Walheim graduated hours before Villa Maria Academy’s PIAA quarterfinal against District 3’s Lampeter-Strasburg at Exeter Township High School.
“I was a little nervous because we had graduation this morning,” Walheim said. “I didn’t know if we would be a little unfocused or what …”
Villa needed a couple minutes to get the flow going, but the Hurricanes were determined to move on in the state tournament.
Walheim tallied her 100th career goal and the District 1 champion Hurricanes rolled to a 21-8 victory.
Villa Maria plays Catholic League and District 12 champion Archbishop Carroll in the semifinals Tuesday.
Walheim reached the milestone late in the first half. The Villanova signee and draw specialist registered three goals and three assists and won 12 draw controls.
“Last game I knew I was close and coming into today I knew that I was one away,” she said. “It was exciting to have all my teammates here to share it with. In the state tournament, two games away (from a state final), I’m glad I got it today.”
Villa Maria is vying for its second consecutive PIAA Class 2A championship.
Perhaps there isn’t a more balanced offensive team in the state. The Hurricanes’ penchant for spreading out the scoring was on display against Lampeter-Strasburg, as six players finished with at least two goals.
Villa Maria junior Bridget Finley led the way with five goals and dished out two assists.
“We were sort of tired before the game, but right before we got real hyped up,” Finley said. “We came out a little slow but our (energy) kept going up and up as the game went on.”
Delaney found the back of the net four times and added a helper, Margie Carden and Walheim posted hat tricks, and Demutis and Jacki Murray each chipped in with a pair of tallies. Hannah Young distributed beautifully all game, racking up four assists to go with one goal.
Villa Maria’s attack was simply unstoppable.
“We practice so much with 7-on-7 and that helps a lot,” Finley said. “We all know where to cut and where go get open. We all work together pretty well.”
Finley scored six minutes into the first half to even the score at 3-3. The goal set off a run of six straight for the Hurricanes.
The second half belonged entirely to Villa, which scored the first nine goals to lead 21-6 with six minutes and change left. Lampeter-Strasburg’s lone force on attack was Kelsey Kimmel, who had six of her team’s eight goals.
Kaya Branco stood tall in the cage for Villa, making four saves. But she barely had to break a sweat in a second half that dominated by Villa’s attack.
“We’ve been working together for so long, so we’re getting used to each other,” Walheim said.
You bet….
“We are having fun and we just want to keep it going.”
Villa Maria 21, Lampeter-Strasburg 8
Lampeter-Strasburg 6 2 – 8
Villa Maria 12 9 – 21
First-half scoring: LS: Conklin 24:48; VM: Carden (Delaney) 23:52; VM: Delaney (Walheim) 23:52; LS: Kimmel 21:14; LS: Gochnauer 20:15; VM: Finley (Young) 19:25; VM: Iacobucci (Carden) 18:12; VM: Delaney (Young) 16:59; VM: Delaney (Walheim) 16:50; VM: Finley 15:44; VM: DeMutis 13:12; LS: Kimmel 11:56; LS: Kimmel (Conklin) 9:32; VM: Finley (Carden) 5:05; VM: Walheim (Murray) 3:55; VM: Murray (Finley) 3:23; LS: Kimmel 2:57; VM: Delaney (Young) 1:05.
Second-half scoring: VM: Carden (Young) 22:20; VM: Carden (Finley 20:54; VM: Walheim 19:27; VM: Finley 17:33; VM: Walheim 13:20; VM: DeMutis (Walheim) 12:30; VM: Murray 10:03; VM: Finley 8:43; VM: Young 6:47; LS: Kimmel 4:37; LS: Kimmel 0:05.
Goalies: Peticca (LS) 8 saves, Garrett (LS) 1 save, Branco (VM) 5 saves.

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