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Shanahan reaches 3rd straight district title game

DOWNINGTOWN >> You may or may not believe in the old sports adage that its how you finish not how you started that counts, but the Bishop Shanahan girls lacrosse team sure does.

The Eagles have caught fire in the latter part of the season, and that momemntum carried into Thursday’s District 1 Class 2A semifinal as they used timely first-half scoring and a suffocating defense to knock off eight-seeded Gwynedd Mercy, 9-4.

The win catapults fifth-seeded Shanahan to its third consecutive title game, where they will face No. 7 Mount St. Joseph on Wednesday at a time and place to be determined. The Eagles won the previous two and are looking to be the first three-time champion since 2A began in 2018.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said midfielder Caitlyn Hubiak. “It’s great to be a champion. We did it twice before. We’ve been here before, so we’re all ready to execute and bring home a three-peat.”

The two teams met earlier in the season with Shanahan coasting to an 11-3 victory, but the offenses took some time Thursday before clicking.

“I think it was a little bit of nerves,” Hubiak said of the goalless start. “We really had a great game Tuesday (a dramatic 10-7 win over Strath Haven). I think we needed a little bit of ime to get into the game, and then our shots started falling.”

The pair went nearly 10 minutes before notching the opening goal. Shanahan (14-6-1) had opportunities, but they were stymied by the play of goalie Jenny Keagy, who made six stops in the first half. The Monarchs (14-7) didn’t fare much better, but it was turnovers that were preventing them from getting on the board.

“Both of the defenses stepped up from the start,” said Gwynedd Mercy coach Bridget Beck. “Our defense played a phenomenal game from the minute we stepped on the field to the minute we stepped off. Our defense showed up today. Our goalie, Jenny, just made all the saves. Our defense just killed it in the beginning and we couldn’t score on our attacking end.”

The breakthrough for the Eagles came with 15:05 left as Annabelle Wiedel unleashed a low, hard shot off a free position to open their account.

They made it 2-0 as Silvia Baptista’s free position shot sneaked by Keagy, who got a piece of it.

Gwynedd got on the board from the 8-meter as senior midfielder Ellie Verrill ripped a shot past goalie Izzy Sawicki and the deficit was halved.

Shanahan restored the two-goal advantage as Wiedel scored while falling down with 5:26 remaining. Hubiak used a solo effort to bull her way into position to make it a 4-1 lead with 5:26 to play. Seconds later. Amelia Benner sent a low shot past Keagy for a 5-1 advantage Shanahan kept heading into the halftime break.

Benner continued her natural hat trick when she scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half to bump the lead to 7-1.

“Amelia was awesome,” said Shanahan coach Kacy Small. “She’s done things all year that nobody talks about. She just does a lot of the dirty work on the rebounds and is at the right time and does a lot of things to extend possessions for us. It was real good to see her cash in like that.”

Gwynedd turned a turnover into a semi-breakaway and turned it into a goal with sophomore Malley Connor on the receiving end.

Hubiak notched her second goal of the game as she did a little shake-and bake move to lose her defender, get a little space and scored to make it 8-2 with 18:39 left.

“A little bit of a signature move I do quite often,” said Hubiak.

Colleen Mullin and Audrey Beck scored on either end of a Stella D’Ambro tally to wrap up the scoring.

Sawicki, who was coming off a stellar game against Strath Haven, made 10 saves for the victory.

“Their defense threw something at us we haven’t seen before and unfortunately, we weren’t able to adjust quick enough,” added Beck.

The Monarchs will face third seed Upper Moreland in the third-place game Wednesday.

“Resetting over the weekend,” said Beck. “We are definitely going to practice how to handle pressure and be able to connect more.”

But for the Eagles, winners of 10 of their last 11, another trip to the promised land awaits.

“Our biggest thing right now is respecting all of our opponents,” said Small. “This has been a really wild year in the Ches-Mont and across PA lacrosse, a lot of close games. This time of year, at least for our program, we’re just focused on doing what we have to do.”

Bishop Shanahan 9, Gwynedd Mercy 4
Gwynedd Mercy 1 3 — 4
Bishop Shanahan 5 4 — 9
Gwynedd Mercy goals: Verrill, Connor, Mullin, Beck.
Bishop Shanahan goals: Benner 3, Hubiak 2, Wiedel 2, Baptista, D’Ambro,
Goalie saves: Keagy (GMA) 12; Sawicki (BS) 10.



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