Main Line coaches reflect on PIAA cancellations

On April 9, the PIAA officially cancelled the remainder of the winter sports championships, as well as the spring sports season, after Governor Wolf shut down schools for the remainder of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Several Main Line basketball squads were affected by the cancellation of the remainder of the PIAA state basketball tourney, including the Lower Merion boys team, and the Villa Maria Academy and Archbishop Carroll girls’ squads.
Lower Merion boys’ basketball coach Gregg Downer, whose Aces (20-8) were in the PIAA state tournament for the 10th year in a row – the longest current streak in Class 6A – and advanced to the second round of States, said, “I support the decision 100 percent, we cannot put anyone’s health at risk, and it was well beyond the point to cancel the tourney.”
The Aces had a relatively young team, and many of this year’s players will return for another season next winter.
“Going 20-8 was a great success for a team that only returned 39 varsity points,” said Downer. “Our kids worked hard to continue a tradition of excellence. Our preseason goals were to qualify for three tournaments – Central League, District 1 and States – and we were happy to accomplish all three. We also are excited about the future, as 12 players return next year.”
Villa Maria head coach Kathy McCartney, whose Hurricanes had advanced to the PIAA 5A state quarterfinals, said, “Even though I knew [the cancellation] was inevitable, the official announcement was upsetting. I feel very bad for the kids especially the seniors who end their careers so unceremoniously. We all understand that is was a necessary decision, but it was still hard.
“We had another good 20-win season and my seniors were a huge part of that success. [Although] Paige Lauder never got a senior season because of an injury, the other four seniors – Maddy Ryan, Myla Warley, Morgan Warley and Jackie Ford – were leaders for us not just statically but in the locker room as well. They all played together in middle school too so they were really tight.
“I feel really badly that they don’t get closure on their senior season. We had some great wins and made some great memories together that will hopefully last a lifetime. I really love those kids and I know they have big things ahead of them.”
The cancellation of the PIAA spring season meant the end of high school careers for many Main Line high school seniors. For the Harriton girls’ lacrosse team, it also was a missed opportunity to defend its PIAA state championship.
“This is a really special group who came off an amazing season, and I know they were eager to see what they could accomplish this year,” said Harriton girls’ lacrosse head coach Rebecca Cartee-Haring. “{Senior captain] Maddie Henderson, [senior captain] Lucy Dwyer and goalie Alex Turner were all key contributors last year and this year they were the core and heart of this team.
“On the field, Maddie showed composure and defensive grit and with her ability to finish and score, I expected her to be one of our leading scorers. Alex is an amazing goalie not just in how she comes up with the saves you just don’t know how she got, but it her vocal presence in cage helping to direct and encourage the defense. She would have been key to the success of our defense. Lucy is a natural born leader, who despite a knee injury and surgery in the off season, attended just about every lacrosse event and indoor game. She had the respect of the team and the coaching staff and we were all so excited to see her back out there. She would have easily hit 100 goals this season in the first few games.
“We also had a number of other seniors who were looking forward to filling roles left by last year’s senior class.”
Harriton baseball head coach Scott Kurzinsky said, “We had four seniors, all of which are going onto the college and will be playing at their specific schools, so this ‘kind of’ lessens the blow, a little.”

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