Gwynedd Mercy Academy beats Springfield Montco in District 1-2A quarterfinals

SPRINGFIELD >> “We’re not done yet.”

That was Gwynedd Mercy Academy’s mindset throughout their District 1-2A quarterfinal game against Springfield Montco Tuesday afternoon.

The Monarchs weren’t done when they trailed by two goals in the middle of the second half and they weren’t done when they took a one-goal lead with 45.7 seconds left. They certainly weren’t done when Springfield had the ball in the offensive end in the final 15 seconds.

After Audrey Beck gave the eighth-seeded Monarchs a lead in the final minute, they made a defensive stand at the other end to close out an 11-10 win over the top-seeded Spartans at Springfield Township High School.

“We don’t stop,” Beck said of the defense at the end. “We don’t get tired. Our defense is unmatched, it’s incredible. I think that they are one of the biggest reasons why we are where we are.”

“We’re more of a second-half team,” GMA’s Ellie Verrill said. “We always come out strong and we just really made sure to focus on the little things and piece-by-piece put it all together and communicate. We knew if we could hold them for those 13 more seconds we could get it done.”

Keira Cassidy forced a turnover with a little over a minute to go to get Gwynedd Mercy (14-6) possession with the score tied, 10-10. Beck earned a free position opportunity and converted to put the Monarchs ahead late in the game.

“I just knew we had to get it done,” Beck, who credited her teammates, said of the game-winner. “It just had to be done in order for our team to be able to make it to the next step.”

Gwynedd Mercy Academy’s Audrey Beck controls the ball while Springfield Montco’s Autumn Singletary defends in the District 1-2A quarterfinals Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Ed Morlock/MediaNews Group)

Springfield generated a few scoring opportunities after winning the draw, but couldn’t find the back of the net. GMA goalie Jenny Keagy made six saves in the second half and came up big in the final minutes.

“(GMA) did a really good job crashing on our shooters and their goalie came up very big in the second half with some really good saves at point-blank,” Springfield coach Casey Murray said. “I think we had some good looks, but they just did a really good job getting on our hands and we didn’t get much behind the shots.”

The Spartans led, 7-6, at halftime and scored the first goal of the second half to take an 8-6 advantage. The two-goal difference was the largest lead for either team in the tightly-contested game.

Verrill answered the two-goal deficit with three straight goals in 42 seconds. The third goal of that sequence gave the Monarchs their first lead of the game with 16:26 remaining.

“I just knew we had to get a lead on them,” Verrill said. “So many great assists coming in to get those goals. After my yellow card I knew I had to turn it up and change the momentum of the game.”

“I think every time Ellie makes a great play it builds up the entire team,” Beck added. “Not just the offense, but the midfield and defense.”

The opponents alternated the next three goals. Springfield’s Fiona Rizzo tied it 9-9, GMA’s Madeline McFadden made it 10-9 and Springfield’s Emma Yoder evened the score, 10-10, with 4:21 to play.

Verrill led the Monarchs with four goals while Cassidy and Malley Connor each added two.

Rizzo netted a game-high five goals for the Spartans and Yoder added two.

Sprinfield Montco’s Fiona Rizzo moves with the ball while Gwynedd Mercy Academy’s Abi Wickersham defends in the District 1-2A quarterfinals Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Ed Morlock/MediaNews Group)

The win secures Gwynedd Mercy Academy a spot in the PIAA-2A state playoffs and sends the Monarchs to the District 1-2A semifinals. They’ll face No. 5 Bishop Shanahan, a 10-7 winner over No. 4 Strath Haven, Thursday.

“We knew we were underestimated and I think that was our main goal – to prove them wrong, prove everyone wrong,” Beck said. “Here we are going to states and on our third round of districts.”

Springfield’s season ends with the loss. The Spartans went 18-2 overall this year and won a share of the Suburban One League American Conference.

“Our goal was to win the league this year and we did that with a 17-1 record,” Murray said, “which was the first time in like 12 years for the school to be able to do that. That was a huge win for us. This was bonus lacrosse a little bit. We love districts and states, but we really tried to focus on the regular season… We would’ve loved to have gotten to the states if we could’ve, but I still think it’s a successful year. Hurts right now, but still a pretty good year.”

Gwynedd Mercy Academy 11, Springfield Montco 10

Gwynedd Mercy Academy 6 5 – 11

Springfield Montco 7 3 – 10

Goals: GMA: Keira Cassidy 2, Ellie Verrill 4, Malley Connor 2, Colleen Mullin, Madeline McFadden, Audrey Beck. S: Emma Yoder 2, Fiona Rizzo 5, Maddie McDevitt, Stella Nelson, Shannon Silvius.

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