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Penn Charter’s second-half surge sinks Hill School in PAISAA semis

Penn Charter’s Brenna McCafferty (6) and Darcy Felter (2) come to celebrate with Gracie Shoup (18) after Shoup’s goal against Hill School in Tuesday’s PAISAA semifinal. (Owen McCue - MediaNews Group)

EAST FALLS >> The Penn Charter girls lacrosse team started the first half strong. The Quakers couldn’t finish the first 25 minutes the same way.

After letting an early four-goal lead slip away, No. 1 Penn Charter built another four-goal advantage against No. 4 Hill School in the second half of Tuesday’s PAISAA semifinal.

The Quakers made sure to learn from their first-half mistakes.

Penn Charter thwarted another Hill comeback attempt by closing the game with eight straight goals for a 16-6 semifinal victory.

PHOTO GALLERY: Hill School-Penn Charter PAISAA Semifinal 5.24.22

The top-seeded Quakers will face third-seeded Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy (a 9-8 winner over Agnes Irwin) in Thursday’s PAISAA championship at Cabrini University.

“You just gotta keep your head up, know that we have it and trust each other,” Penn Charter’s Darcy Felter said.

“It was just, we know what we’re doing, we just need to put it all together. We just weren’t making our shots or connecting our passes. It was just finishing the play, winning some draws.”

Penn Charter’s Maddie Shoup, who led all scorers with seven goals, scored twice and Charlotte Hodgson added another goal to put the Quakers up 3-0 less than two minutes into the game. Felter extended the lead to 4-0 at the 23:08 mark.

The rout appeared to be on.

Hill School goalie Sam Cifra (25) fends off the defense of Penn Charter’s Bea Buckley (8) in Tuesday’s PAISAA semifinal. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

After figuring out its early face-off issues, Hill stormed its way back into the game.

Megan MacMurray struck first at the 16:32 mark then came scores from Annabella Schafer and two straight from Annika Nordhoy at the 1:43 mark to tie the game, 4-4. The score stayed that way until halftime.

“Our defenders really picked it up after those first four minutes,” Hill coach Marcela Gaitan said. “We held them scoreless for 21 minutes and we really started playing for each other. That is the difference in this being a tie game at halftime versus a six to nothing or whatever it could have been. They really realized that they wanted it.”


Hill goalie Sam Cifra, who made eight saves in the game, was a big reason for the Blues’ turnaround. She made a number of sensational stops throughout the contest.

“She’s a momentum shifter for our program every single time with the way she stands tall in net against some really sharpshooters,” Gaitan said. “One-v-0 and/or on eight-meters and she shuts them down regularly. She is a game changer for our program.

The start of the second half was a mirror image of the first. Shoup reeled off three straight goals, then assisted Felter on another to spot the Quakers another four-goal lead, 8-4, with 20:36 to play.

“Our practicing and all our plays are coming together really nicely, and we’re finally clicking,” Shoup said.

Penn Charter’s Maddie Shoup winds up for a goal in Tuesday’s PAISAA semifinal against Hill School. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Penn Charter’s Gracie Shoup scores a goal in Tuesday’s PAISAA semifinal against Hill School. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Shoup certainly spearheaded the charge.

“No one beats Shoup one-on-one,” Felter said.

Scores by Hill’s Emma Lewis and Kerry Elliott made the score 8-6 with 15:03 to play and brought back flashbacks of the Blues’ first-half comeback.

Penn Charter made its adjustments this time.

Bea Buckley scored a minute after Elliottt, Felter added another and Shoup netted her sixth at the 10:43 mark to give PC an 11-6 lead, its biggest of the game.

“We did change up our defense once or twice and we realized we needed to communicate a little bit more and it was just like little mistakes,” Shoup said. “Once we fixed them, it all came together.”


PC’s Ella Lewandowski was a constant disruptor on the defensive end, forcing three turnovers and scooping two ground balls.

Shoup’s seven goals and an assist led the PC offense followed by four goals and two assists for Felter. Hodgson scored twice and Buckley (assist), Grace Shoup (assist), and Alex Glomb also added goals for the potent Quakers’ attack, which closed the contest with eight-straight goals.

“What I love about our offense is we don’t really have set plays, we have motions,” Felter said. “People like Shoup that understand the game just find the seams. It’s not like an end goal. It doesn’t always end with her but sometimes it does.”

Hill School’s Annabella Schafer scoops a ground ball against Penn Charter in Tuesday’s PAISAA semifinal. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Penn Charter’s Charlotte Hodgson, left, scores a goal as Hill School’s Kimaura Schindler raches out to defend Tuesday’s PAISAA semifinall. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Both programs were in unfamiliar territory entering Tuesday’s game. The Quakers were making their first semifinal trip since 2016 and the Blues were making their semifinal debut in the PAISAA tournament.

Hill’s 2022 class of Lewis, Annika Nordhoy, Amelia Nordhoy, Madison Orsi, Sophia Coan, Katharine Moore, Emma Gray, Amanda McCarick and Molly Riggi are the first class Gaitan has guided through all four years of their careers.

The group helped get the program to its deepest postseason finish.

“We have nine senior swho are all dynamic athletes and who have given a lot in their final spring term, which is an easy time to get distracted,” Gaitan said. “They really remained dialed in for this team and for this program. I got here four years ago, and being able to grow and develop this program with those seniors has been really, really special.”

Penn Charter’s victory pushed the Quakers into the PAISAA title game for the first time. They hope to avenge a loss to Springside-Chestnut Hill earlier this season for the program’s first PAISAA championship.

“After our season last year and ending the way it did, this is huge for us,” Shoup said.

Penn Charter 16, Hill School 6

Hill School 4-2 6
Penn Charter 4-12 16

Goals – PC: Maddie Shoup 7, Darcy Felter 4, Charlotte Hodgson 2, Bea Buckley, Grace Shoup, Alex Glomb; Hill:  Annika Nordhoy 2, Annabella Schafer, Emma Lewis, Meg MacMurray, Kerry Elliott.

Assists – PC: Darcy Felter 2, Maddie Shoup, Bea Buckley, Grace Walter, Lane Murray; Hill: Annabella Schafer, Kerry Elliott.

Saves – PC: Kayla Joyce 3; Hill: Sam Cifra 8.

Hill School’s Amelia Nordhoy (21) scopes the field as Penn Charter’s Nora Maione (7) defends in Tuesday’s PAISAA semifinal. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Hill School’s Sophia Coan, left, runs with the ball as Penn Charter’s Maddie Shoup chases her from behind in Tuesday’s PAISAA semifinal. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Penn Charter’s Maddie Shoup (25) goes to goal as Hill School’s Madison Orsi (1) defends in Tuesday’s PAISAA semifinal. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

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