Westtown >> Bishop Shanahan’s quest for a third consecutive PIAA District 1 2A girls lacrosse title came up a few minutes short Wednesday, as the Eagles lost a 10-9 heartbreaker in the district championship final to Mount Saint Joseph at West Chester Rustin High School.
The No. 5 seed Eagles maintained a 9-8 lead with six minutes left, but a couple of late goals by Magic senior attacker Ava Rossi spelled magic – and the district title – for Mount Saint Joseph.
Early in the second half, Shanahan (14-7-1) appeared to have grabbed the momentum against the No. 7 seed Magic (16-6). After taking their first lead of the game with 32 seconds left in the first half on a goal by senior midfielder and tri-captain Caitlyn Hubiak, the Eagles increased that margin to 8-6 with 23 minutes to play on Hubiak’s third goal of the afternoon.
Hubiak, who was recently selected to the USA Lacrosse All-American team for Southeastern Pennsylvania, said, “I just knew I had to take it to the cage (at that point), it was that time of the game that I just needed to go, and our team worked together to put that goal on the board.”
But the Eagles scored only one goal in the remaining 23 minutes.
“I think it was a matter of getting the ball back on offense and getting possession at the draw circle, I think we struggled with that,” said Hubiak.
Mount Saint Joseph head coach Becky Cartee-Haring said, “We came in working on a brand-new zone (defense) that we’ve only been running for two games and several practices. But we scouted Shanahan, and we knew they liked to do a lot of 1v1’s, they liked to do a lot of draw and dump. So our philosophy was, they’re going to score, but we’re going to make it hard, and make them work for every shot. We did pretty well with that – although there were a couple (of goals) that they got through pretty easily.”
Cartee-Haring watched Bishop Shanahan’s 10-7 quarterfinal win against Strath Haven last week and was impressed with the Eagles’ dynamic offense.
“After that game, I told our girls, ‘I know this is going to be hard, but we’re going to try a zone because they’ve got gunners and they can shoot, so we want to try to disrupt as much as we can, and see what we can do,’” said Cartee-Haring. “We had to respect that about Shanahan.”
Mount jumped out to a 2-0 lead less than three minutes into the game, but Shanahan battled back to tie the score at 3-3 midway through the first quarter on goals by senior attack and tri-captain Annabelle Weidel, midfielder Gillian Greco and senior attack Silvia Baptista.
The Magic took a 6-4 lead with seven minutes to go before the first half was over, and once again, the Eagles bounced back. Hubiak scored on an 8-meter shot, sophomore attack Elise Pezone scored (with an assist from Baptista) and Hubiak tallied her second goal of the game with 32 seconds to go before halftime to give Shanahan its first lead of the game, 7-6, a lead the Eagles took into halftime.
Hubiak’s third goal of the game gave the Eagles an 8-6 lead with 23:26 to play, and then Shanahan regained possession, only to lost it on a turnover.
Cartee-Haring said, “We kept our composure (when it was 8-6). We had been turning the ball over a lot, and at that point we said, wait a minute, we’ve got to slow it down.”
During the next six minutes, Mount scored twice on goals by Kate Donovan and Gabby Clair to tie the score at 8-8.
Weidel, who scored two goals Wednesday, said, “We definitely had the momentum in the second half. I don’t know where we lost the momentum, but we’ve been through a lot this season – we started off the season pretty rough, and lost to some teams we should have beat, then at mid-season we kind of picked it up. Then we got to Districts and we kind of breezed by. We definitely worked hard at the beginning of Districts, and I think, coming into the game today, we were kind of a little too relaxed, we should have played with more energy, more momentum.”
With just 13 minutes to play, Baptista scored her second goal of the game to give the Eagles a 9-8 lead. But goals were coming hard for the Eagles – USC-bound senior goalie Annie Shields racked up 11 saves.
With 5:37 to play, Rossi scored her second goal of the game to tie the score at 9-9, then following a Shanahan shot that hit the post, Rossi tallied again with 3:45 to play, her third goal of the game.
Cartee-Haring said, “Ava is just amazing as a lefty coming across and she just loves that low shot, and when she got that (to tie the score at 9-9) I think it fired them up, and then when she got the next one, it was like, ‘OK we got this.’”
Shanahan tried to tie it up one last time, but after Shields made another key save, the Magic controlled the ball in the waning seconds and Mount was district champion.
Cartee-Haring said, “I think we lit a fire under the girls bellies, and they did not want to go home without the trophy, it was sheer will. They’ve never been here (to the district championship final), so this was really important to them.”
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.”
The Eagles will open the PIAA 2A state tournament June 6. Last year, the Eagles lost in the state semifinals to eventual 2A champion Archbishop Carroll; the year before, they fell in the state quarterfinals to District 3 runnerup Twin Valley.
Weidel said, “It’s definitely lighting a fire for us going into States. We’ve got to keep our momentum up, our positivity. I think there were some points in the game today where we had kind of a drought and we lost that intensity, we’ve got to keep it going.”
Hubiak, who will be playing lacrosse for the University of Connecticut next spring, said, “I think we definitely have some stuff to work on, both on the offensive side and the defensive side, for the state tournament.”
Small said, “I think States is just a whole different season, a whole different monster, these kids have to stay focused while all of their friends are going to the beach, and all of their friends are graduated and have off every day. The people that are still playing in States need to show up in practice every day and mentally give up on a lot of things their peers are doing, and make those sacrifices for that common goal. Usually, you see that the teams that are locked in the most are the ones that make it, and I guess time will tell if we’re locked in enough to do it.”
Mount Saint Joseph 10, Bishop Shanahan 9
Mount Saint Joseph 6 4 – 10
Bishop Shanahan 7 2 – 9
Mount Saint Joseph goals: Donovan 2, Rezza 2, A. Clair, Westmoreland, Rossi 3, G. Clair.
Bishop Shanahan goals: Weidel 2, Baptista 2, Pezone, Hubiak 3, Greco.
Goalie saves: MSJ – Shields 11, BS – Sawicki 5.