Archbishop Carroll cruises past Upper Moreland in PIAA-2A first round

LOWER GWYNEDD >> For Archbishop Carroll’s Chloe Bleckley, the start of this season’s PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse tournament is no different from the last two that ended with the Patriots celebrating state titles.

“It’s been the same feeling every year,” the junior said. “I feel we have to get our job done. It’s a business trip, so we got to win it.”

Tuesday afternoon at Gwynedd Mercy, it was just another day at the office for Carroll despite the first-round matchup with Upper Moreland being its first game since earning its 23rd consecutive Philadelphia Catholic League title May 19.

The Golden Bears, making the program first-ever state appearance, took a 1-0 lead 31 seconds into the contest but the Patriots proceeded to score the next 15 goals – the first 12 coming before halftime – and cruised into the quarterfinals with a 17-2 victory at Gwynedd Mercy.

“We knew that they were playing backer, the zone backer of the defense so we had to move the ball quickly,” Bleckley said. “And we practiced it in practice. Our defense kind of had the backer – we played 8-on-7 so the extra girl really prepared us. Just move the ball and find the openings.”

Archbishop Carroll’s Chloe Bleckley (3) looks to drive past Upper Moreland’s Annalise Messina (12) during their PIAA-2A first round game on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at Gwynedd Mercy. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Bleckley and Machaela Henry both tallied a game-high five goals, while Catie McConaghy collected three goals and three assists for Carroll (20-1), which picked up its 19th straight victory to move on and face District 1-4 Gwynedd Mercy – a 16-13 winner over District 2 champ Crestwood – Saturday at a time and place to be announced.

“Listen, they’re a great team,” said Upper Moreland coach Kim Frantz of Carroll. “You can’t take it away from them. They’re a great team, they play hard, they’ll play hard ‘til the last minute, they won’t slow down, that’s just not who they are and that’s fine.

“And so we knew that coming into it, we’ve seen their scores against other teams and whatnot and so I was just like you can’t slow down cause if you slow down it’s going to be extremely lopsided.”

Kate O’Neill added a hat trick for the Patriots. Ava Bleckley handed out three assists while Sienna Golden dished out a pair of assists.

Archbishop Carroll’s Claire Sexton (12) scores a goal in the first half against Upper Moreland during their PIAA-2A first round game on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at Gwynedd Mercy. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Olivia Meakim and Annalise Messina each had a goal for Upper Moreland (19-4), which finished third in District 1. The Golden Bears graduated eight seniors from a side that split the Suburban One League American Conference title with Springfield-Montco and Upper Dublin

Upper Moreland began the season 1-2 after back-to-back losses to Upper Merion and Springfield then ripped off 17 wins in a row – its last win of the run, beating Pope John Paul II 19-3 in the district quarters May 23 clinched the Bears’ inaugural trip to states.

“Since year one we’ve talked about conference, could win the conference and I feel every year we got a little bit closer and this year they just sealed the deal,” said Frantz, in her seventh season at UM. “So this team is always going to be special, they’re always going to have their number on that banner in the gym. They’re always going to be the first team that went to states.

“And I think from here on out I think we are going to have future state visits so to speak but I just think they kind of set the tone, they helped set the tone of lacrosse at Upper Moreland.”

Upper Moreland’s Annalise Messina (12) looks to collect the ball as she heads up the field ahead of Archbishop Carroll’s Machaela Henry (14) during their PIAA-2A first round game on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at Gwynedd Mercy. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Meakim struck for the opening tally at 24:29 but McConaghy pulled the Patriots level at 22:45. Claire Sexton put Carroll ahead at 21:18 while Chloe Bleckley’s first goal of the afternoon 27 seconds later made it 3-1.

“We’re just moving the ball, see who’s open,” Chloe Bleckley said. “Whoever’s in the open spot knew what to do.”

Back-to-back scores from Henry – the second on an eight-meter shot – extended Carroll’s lead to 5-1. After Chloe Bleckley found the back of the net at 9:14, O’Neill posted the next three goals, the last of the sophomore’s natural hat trick at 5:49 pushing the margin to 10-1.

“I think that we’re not used to losing and when you get down by five, six, seven goals – it’s kind of what happened with us in (the district semifinal against) Mount, too – I think it starts to mess with you a little bit,” Frantz said. “Especially when you’re not used to it. And I think that that was part of the problem.”

Archbishop Carroll’s Kate O’Nell (14) scores a goal in the first half against Upper Moreland during their PIAA-2A first round game on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at Gwynedd Mercy. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Henry recorded her third goal to put the Patriots up 10 while Chloe Bleckley collected her third in the half’s final second for a 12-1 lead at the break.

“In knew they were focusing on Kate (O’Neill), they were yelling ’27, 27,’” Chloe Bleckley said. “And I saw Ava (Bleckley) and I made eye contact so we got that goal – easy goal.”

Chloe Bleckley scored the first two goals in the second half with a McConaghy tally on an eight-meter making it 15-1 before Messina put UM on the scoreboard a second time. Henry collected the game’s final two goals.

Archbishop Carroll 17, Upper Moreland 2
Upper Moreland 1 1 – 2
Archbishop Carrroll 12 5 – 17
Upper Moreland Goals-Assists: Olivia Meakim 1-0; Annalise Messina 1-0; Regan Cummins 0-1.
Archbishop Carroll Goals-Assists: Chloe Bleckley 5-1; Machaela Henry 5-0; Catie McConaghy 3-3; Kate O’Neill 3-0; Claire Sexton 1-0; Ava Bleckley 0-3; Sienna Golden 0-2; Lainey Straub 0-1.

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