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District 1 Class 3A Girls Lacrosse: Early near misses only deepens Garnet Valley’s resolve

Garnet Valley's Kaitlyn Stankavage fires a goal in a game against Radnor last season. (Pete Bannan/Medianews Group)

CONCORD — In her usually encouraging and upbeat way, Garnet Valley girls lacrosse coach Jenny Dooley had a reminder for her Jaguars players.

They were midway through the first half of a second-round District 1 Class 3A game with Great Valley, tied at deuce. They’d hit posts four times and had shots find opposing goalie Sydney Manning on five occasions. And Dooley was … well, fine with all that.

“It definitely gets frustrating, but she was saying that we had the looks, and I couldn’t agree more,” senior attacker Sophie Kingsborough said. “We definitely had great takes, we just had to finish. And she kept telling us, ‘the shots will definitely, eventually fall.’ So we had to stick with it.”

When “eventually” came, there was no stopping the Jaguars.

The No. 7 seed ran off eight unanswered goals to run away with an 18-3 win over the Patriots and earn a spot in Saturday’s quarterfinals, with a right to play into the state tournament.

Kingsborough led the way with five goals and an assist. But when the puzzle of Penn State-bound goalie Manning was finally solved, the Jaguars didn’t hoard the information.

Seven of their goals came via free-position shots, where Ava Kane blasted home two of her four markers. Combined with near constant possession, the Jaguars (13-6) put the foot down and never let up.

Manning had their number early with eight saves, a fair few of them sensational. Combined with two post strikes and Kane and Kingsborough both rattling the crossbar, the Jags could’ve been fazed. But they shook it off.

“She’s an amazing goalie, so we just had to find her very few weaknesses,” Kingsborough said. “We definitely saw her same side. Once we started getting that, we got into a groove. The first half, we started a bit rough, and when we found that, we started to have some success with that.”

“They threw a lot more fakes the second half,” said Manning, who finished with 10 saves before exiting midway through the second half. “That definitely threw me off a little bit. But it is what it is. We’ve had a great season, played great. Just a sad outcome.”

It didn’t hurt that the Jags had such a steady supply of the ball. They won 14 of 21 draws, six from defender Erin Barnes, five from Kate Stankavage and four from Kane. Once they broke through, the fine line between getting a steady supply of shots to keep her focused and being in constant duress was crossed for Manning.

Kingsborough put the Jaguars ahead with 10:47 left in the first half, off a feed behind the cage by Maddie Shoemaker. That kicked off a run that ended with Mia Zebley’s eight-meter shot with seven seconds left in the half to make it 7-2 at the break.

Kane and Kingsborough completed their hat tricks early in the second half, and Kingsborough’s fourth made it 10-2 before Great Valley scored again. Kane finished with four goals, Stankavage had a hat trick and Shoemaker had two and two.

That was more than enough for a defense, marshaled by Barnes, that kept Great Valley quiet. A 33-11 advantage in shots helped. But with a zone look that bottled up the dangerous off-ball movement of Great Valley’s two other Division I talents – Pitt-bound Kaitlyn Giandonato and Lehigh commit Noelle Albanese – the Patriots couldn’t get much going.

“Definitely talking the whole time and having our sticks up the whole time, and counting on each other that we had each other’s backs,” Barnes said of the Jags’ defense. “We trusted each other and knew we could get those knock downs.”

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