All-Delco Girls Lacrosse: Ventresca, Whitaker, Zebley add to multi-sport prowess

In addition to Player of the Year Ava Bleckley of Archbishop Carroll, the All-Delco team includes:

Alexis Ventresca, Episcopal Academy: Ventresca wraps up an outstanding senior season before heading to Northwestern by adding a lacrosse All-Delco honor to her field hockey nod. She also took part, with Bleckley, in the U.S. Under-20 national team camp this week. Ventresca led the Churchwomen to a 16-3 record, with only one loss to Pennsylvania opposition, and an unbeaten run through the Inter-Ac for the league title. She led the way with 46 goals, 39 assists and 85 points. Despite playing just 19 games, she tied for ninth in the county in points and tied for second in assists. She had at least one goal and one assist in 17 of 19 games, including two goals and an assist in a 5-4 win over Agnes Irwin in the de facto title decider. She hit a bonkers seven goals and six assists against Notre Dame in late April, then four and two over SCHA and three and one against Agnes Irwin to clinch the title. Ventresca was voted the Inter-Ac player of the year and an All-American.

Springfield’s Erin DeStefano attacks the goal in the first half. DeStefano scored four times, including the overtime game-winner, in a 10-9 win in the District 1 Class 3A semifinal. (PETE BANNAN- DAILY TIMES)

Erin DeStefano, Springfield: The senior attacker won’t be playing lacrosse in college, choosing to focus on her studies at the University of South Carolina. But DeStefano proved she can play at a high level, voted All-Central and All-American. She scored 60 goals, second-best on the Cougars and tied for ninth in Delco, and added 18 assists for 78 points. On a balanced attack that led Springfield to a 16-0 start and the Central League title, she was the most consistent offensive threat. Her high-point mark came with seven goals against Lower Merion. She added three goals and three assists in a one-goal win over Strath Haven, four and one in topping Conestoga and a hat trick to rout Penncrest in the regular season. She hit Radnor for five goals and added four goals to Springfield’s 8-7 win over Manheim Township in the PIAA Class 3A quarterfinals, the Cougars reaching both the District 1 and state semifinals.

Claire Natoli, Cardinal O’Hara: The dynamic senior midfielder was named the Catholic League MVP and is on the All-Delco team for a second straight year thanks to another high-powered season. Natoli led the county in goals (104) and points (132) despite the Lions playing only 20 games as opposed to the 24 of many states-qualifying teams. She scored multiple goals in every game except for the two against Carroll. That included three outings of eight goals and two assists, eight and three against Bonner & Prendergast to end the regular season and seven and three against Archbishop Ryan. In the Catholic League semifinals, she scored 10 goals to go with two assists in subduing Lansdale Catholic. An All-American selection, Natoli will continue her career at the University of South Florida.

Sarah Kelley, Radnor: The Raptors’ attack was impressively balanced, with three players between 66 and 76 points. Though Kelley was third in that list, she led the team in goals and was the midfield engine at both ends of the field that drove the Raptors to 15 wins and the PIAA Class 3A quarterfinals. Kelley scored 54 goals, a total that is 15th in Delco this year. She added 12 assists. She also provided a key defensive presence for a team that allowed 7.9 goals per game, and was one of Radnor’s top draw control specialists. She scored seven goals in beating Lower Meron in April, hit Marple Newtown for five goals and had three four-goal outings. She added two goals in the regular-season finale against Manheim Township, a 6-4 win, and scored 12 goals in six playoff games. An All-American and All-Central selection, she’s committed to Penn.

Chloe Bleckley, Archbishop Carroll: The junior midfielder provided a potent complement to her sister, whom she’ll join at James Madison after next year. The younger Bleckley’s game jumped by leaps and bounds, to 59 goals, 23 assists and 82 points. She was 11th in both categories in the county this season. Bleckley’s speed and guile worked well off her sister’s overwhelming power, and she added offensive pop to her steady defensive attributes and speed on draws. She blistered Radnor for seven goals in April and scored four in a late-march win over Maryland power Notre Dame. She upped her game in states with 16 goals and eight assists in four games, leading the Patriots to their third consecutive PIAA Class 2A title. Bleckley was an All-American and All-Catholic pick.

Penncrest’s Kate Stanton carries the ball out of the defensive zone in the first half of a 10-5 win over Springfield in the PIAA Class 3A semifinal Tuesday night. (PETE BANNAN-DAILY TIMES)

Kate Stanton, Penncrest: Stanton will join Kelley at Penn after next season, a dynamic junior midfield pairing. Stanton helped the Lions make history, reaching the District 1 and PIAA Class 3A finals for the first time in program history. She scored an even 100 goals to go with 30 assists, her goals and point totals second only to Natoli in Delco. She had fewer than two goals in only one game this year, a meeting with Harriton that the Lions won easily. She topped out at eight goals and two assists against Methacton and seven markers against Rustin. Her capstone performance was six goals and two assists in an 11-10, double-overtime win over Downingtown East to get the Lions to states, and she tallied 10 points in two losses to double district/state champ Owen J. Roberts, including four goals and one assist in the state final. In eight district and states games, Stanton scored 27 goals and 10 assists. She was voted first team All-Central in addition to Academic All-American.

Machaela Henry, Archbishop Carroll: The Patriots had plenty of girls who could put the ball in the back of the net, and Henry was among that number. But she provided a lot of other aspects to the three-time reigning PIAA Class 2A champs. She finished third on the team, behind the Bleckleys, in goals (47) and points (67). But she added a key presence in the draw circle, with her wingspan on defense and her vocal leadership. In the state tournament, she supplied 11 goals in four games. She added a team-best seven draw controls in the state semifinal, then four draw controls and two crucial early caused turnovers in the final. Her leadership, as much as the 10 goals in two Catholic League playoff games on the way to a 23rd straight league title, are what coach Lorraine Beers cites as so impactful. An Academic All-American and All-Catholic pick, she’ll continue her career at Xavier University.

Mia Zebley, Garnet Valley: Zebley adds a lacrosse All-Delco, the sport she’ll play at Elon next year, to two soccer All-Delco berths. She ended up leading the Jaguars with 45 goals and was second with 60 points. Her defensive aptitude magnifies her offensive output, even as the Jags finished 13-6-1 and fell short of the state tournament. Zebley did her bit, with six goals in the first-round states win over West Chester Henderson. She added five goals against Unionville and four four-goal outings, adding three assists in a win over Strath Haven. Zebley was voted All-Central and made the USA Lacrosse Academic All-American team.

Garnet Valley’s Mia Zebley, left, carries the ball as Henderson’s Rylee Bauer defends in the first half of a District 1 Class 3A playoff Tuesday. (PETE BANNAN-DAILY TIMES)

Quinn Whitaker, Episcopal Academy: Whitaker’s high school career is halfway over, and already the midfielder is a two-sport All-Delco, her lacrosse honor augmenting a soccer nod as a freshman. (She was limited in her sophomore soccer season by injuries). Lacrosse is where her future lies, as she showed for the Inter-Ac champs. Whitaker finished third on the Churchwomen in goals with 41 and points with 55. The All-American and All-Inter-Ac selection contributed on both ends of the field with her athleticism, her ability to win draws and her sound defensive ability. She had a pair of four-goal games, including in a tight 10-6 win over Springside CHA, and tallied five goals in the season finale against Germantown Academy.

Caroline Chisholm, Agnes Irwin: Chisholm led a three-headed, sophomore midfield monster, with second-teamers Mariyn Dwyer and Blair Fox, for whom bright days lie ahead. Chisholm was the best of the bunch statistically, with a team-best 38 goals and 51 points, helping the Owls post a 16-3 record. Chisholm capped the season with the overtime game-winner in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association tournament final against Penn Charter. She scored three goals and an assist in that 7-6 victory. Chisholm started the year with five goals in the opener against Springside Chestnut Hill, added six goals and one assist at Germantown Academy and was the team’s leading scorer in low-scoring one-goals losses to EA (two goals) and Penn Charter (two goals, one assist) midseason. She was an All-Inter-Ac and All-American selection.

Mira Kuttymartin, Penncrest: The junior defender was one of the best pure defenders around, at a position usually overlooked in the high school game. Penncrest excelled in the postseason thanks in large part to its athletic advantage over most teams at every position, and the Richmond commit exemplified that on the back end. While the Lions played a high-scoring brand of lacrosse – topping 20 goals four times, including a whopping 26 against Methacton – they also allowed just 8.7 per game. They won 21 games, reaching the District 1 Class 3A and PIAA finals. Kuttymartin was a leader on a defensive unit that, like the rest of the squad, was mostly juniors and sophomores, in front of senior goalie Sara Knasiak. They limited Springfield to five goals in the state semifinal, the best performance of the season.

Ava Yancey, Strath Haven: The junior was the top goalie in Delco for the second straight season, a consensus that coaches reached with little deliberation. The Panthers didn’t make it to states, settling for a District 1 Class 2A quarterfinal exit with a 15-5 record. But Yancey still shined. She finished the season with 139 saves against 165 goals allowed, an average of 8.3 concessions per game. She had double-digit saves in five outings, including 11 in a 14-13 loss to Central League champion Springfield in late April. She made eight saves in the first-round districts win over Upper Perkiomen, 17-4. The All-Central selection has committed to Stony Brook University.

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