Magic Moment: Mount Saint Joseph closes strong in 2A final to win first District 1 title

WESTTOWN >> Mount Saint Joseph Academy was defending for four straight minutes in the second half of its District 1-2A championship game against Bishop Shanahan.

The two-time defending district champs were leading by one goal getting good looks and firing shots on target, but Mount goalie Annie Shields continued to turn them away. The possession finally ended when a Shanahan free position was off the mark and the Mount grabbed the groundball behind the net with 7:30 remaining.

Ava Rossi scored on the ensuing possession to tie the game and, less than two minutes later, scored again – her third of the game – to give the Magic a lead with 3:45 to go.

Shields made one final save – her 12th of the game – with three minutes left and the Mount played keepaway until the final buzzer.

No. 7 Mount Saint Joseph Academy defeated No. 5 Bishop Shanahan, 10-9, to win the program’s first District 1-2A championship Wednesday afternoon at West Chester Rustin High School.

“I think this, especially for the seniors, is the perfect way to top off what we’ve been working so hard for,” Shields said, “and it is something I like to think of as showing it to everyone else. No one really thought that Mount could be this good at a sport, especially lacrosse. Just to prove that we were underdogs but now we’re people that have worked really hard and I think we deserve every single second of this.”

“I can’t even describe how happy I am for this team and my coaches,” Rossi added. “We worked so hard for this all season.”

The Mount St. Joseph girls lacrosse team poses with the District 1 championship trophy after defeating Bishop Shanahan 10-9 in the Class 2A final on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at West Chester Rustin. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Mount’s offense struggled with turnovers late in the first half and early in the second. The turnovers and cards helped Bishop Shanahan erase a 6-4 deficit and head into halftime with a 7-6 lead – the Eagles first lead of the game. The trend continued after intermission and Shanahan quickly took an 8-6 lead before pulling in front 9-8 with 13:04 left.

The Magic were whistled for a crease violation at the 11:30 mark to give Shanahan possession and they kept it for four minutes. Shields had to make three saves during the stretch and influenced the off-target free position that gave Mount the ball back.

“Our defense is really close, we’re a really close group of girls,” Shields said. “My sister (Quinn Shields), she’s a low defender. We tell each other how it is and we have another set of sisters on the defensive side – Emily and Meghan Holmes. I think we’re really real with each other down there which helps us a lot. Not that every defensive set is super serious, but when we have to be serious in times like that where it’s a four-minute run – it’s a sisterly bond even with the girls that aren’t sisters. We hold each other accountable and we’re such good teammates. I think that’s a huge part.”

Mount’s passing was crisp down the stretch. Gabby Clair set up Rossi for the game-tying goal at 5:37 and Kate Donovan assisted Rossi’s game-winner at 3:45.

Mount St. Joseph’s Ava Rossi (10) leaps in celebration after her goal to put the Magic up 10-9 in the second half of the District 1-2A final against Bishop Shanahan on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at West Chester Rustin. Mount St. Joseph won 10-9. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

“We get in our huddles, we take those timeouts and we tell ourselves that we need to be patient,” Rossi said of how they corrected the turnover issues. “We need to play our game. We need to play Mount lacrosse. We have everything we need to win this game.”

Both of Rossi’s late goals were scored in similar fashion. She got the ball on the right side of the net, cut to her left in front of the goal and fired it home from about seven yards away.

“I see the opening and it’s too big of a game not to take the chance on that shot,” she said. “I just went for it.

“Hearing my teammates yelling, ‘Go to goal,’ ‘Just rip it,’ knowing that I have the strength to take that shot, especially from a little bit of the outside and just believing that I can,” she credited for the goals.

The Magic called timeout with 2:53 left and a 10-9 lead after Shield’s made her 12th save of the game. They managed to maintain possession until the final whistle and sprinted to Shields at the other end of the field to celebrate the District 1-2A championship.

The Mount St. Joseph girls lacrosse team storms the field to celebrate their 10-9 victory over Bishop Shanahan in the District 1-2A final on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at West Chester Rustin. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Rossi led the Magic with three goals while Maggie Rezza and Kate Donovan each scored twice.

Caitlyn Hubiak scored three goals for Shanahan while Annabelle Wiedel and Silvia Baptista each added two.

The game was tightly contested throughout. The Mount took three two-goal leads in the first half – 2-0, 3-1 and 6-4 – but Shanahan answered every time. They closed the half with three straight goals to take a 7-6 lead into intermission.

The Eagles extended their run to four straight goals when Hubiak scored 94 seconds into the second half. The 8-6 advantage was their largest lead of the game.

Clair and Donovan scored a pair of goals 3:17 apart to tie the game, 8-8, before Baptista scored with 13:04 remaining to put Shanahan back in front, 9-8.

Shanahan head coach Kacy Small said, “We just had some defensive possessions that ended up in goals, we struggled with the draw, and we had some untimely turnovers and bad shots – just sloppy play at the wrong time.

“We’ve played multiple overtime games this year and been on both sides, we’ve been in a lot of close games and a lot of buzzer beater wins or losses, and any time we have those types of games, I just tell our squad that we have to learn from it, and I hope we learn from it and it helps us pick up a win or helps us in a situation, going into States.”

Both teams will compete in the PIAA-2A state playoffs, which start Tuesday. The Mount will face the District 3 third-place finisher while Shanahan matches up with the District 11 champion.

Mount St. Joseph’s Kate Donovan (12) looks to evade Bishop Shanahan’s Carly Cunningham (13) during the second half of the District 1-2A final on Wedneday, May 31, 2023 at West Chester Rustin. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Mount Saint Joseph Academy 10, Bishop Shanahan 9

Mount Saint Joseph Academy 6 4 – 10

Bishop Shanahan 7 2 – 9

Goals: MSJ: Katie Westmoreland, Maggie Rezza 2, Kate Donovan 2, Ava Rossi 3, Amelia Clair, Gabby Clair. BS: Annabelle Wiedel 2,  Gillian Greco, Silvia Baptista 2, Caitlyn Hubiak 3, Elise Pezone.

Saves: MSJ: Annie Shields 12. BS: Izzy Sawicki 4, Allie Hathaway 0.

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