The most influential moment of Maddie Gebert’s lacrosse playing career wasn’t based on something she did herself.
No, it was something that she saw.
A wide-eyed underclassman, playing alongside the likes of Owen J. Roberts’ greats Devin Hassinger, Jess Harsch, Heather Morris and Katie Dempsey among several others, Gebert had to spend plenty of time learning before she could become the main focal point of the Wildcat offense.
“Freshman and sophomore year, I played but I wasn’t a huge contributor,” said Gebert. “Our team was loaded with talented upperclassmen. So I spent a ton of time watching and learning from all of them.”
That key moment for Gebert came near the end of her freshman season.
Gebert saw Dempsey scoop up the opening possession during sudden-death overtime of a key PAC-10 clash with Spring-Ford.
She saw the senior charge down the field with the ball still in her stick.
Then she saw Dempsey pass it to Harsch.
What she saw in the next moment, she’d never forget.
Hassinger took the pass, was fouled, then fired it in the goal for the game-winner, which secured the Wildcats a berth in the PAC-10 Final Four.
She saw, and she never forgot.
“Sixteen seconds,” said Gebert. “That was all it took to win that game.”
Seems oddly familiar.
Gebert never forgot that moment. It helped her to grow both as a player and as a teammate. For the strides she made on the field, Gebert has been named the Pottstown Mercury’s All-Area Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Tied at 5-5 entering the overtime period against Abington in the second round of the District One playoffs this most recent season, Gebert channeled her inner-Harsch.
The senior secured the opening possession after a whistle, then drove it down field. When she drove in front of the net, she was granted a shooting space call from 8-meters out.
Exactly 16 seconds after the opening whistle, Gebert took a step and fired it over the left shoulder of the Abington keeper to secure OJR’s advancement in the district playoffs with a 6-5 win.
“I’ll always remember that moment,” recalled Gebert. “Only 16 seconds.”
Prior to Gebert’s two-year run as Player of the Year it was Boyertown’s Haley Wentzel (2014) preceded by the Bears’ Rachel Engler (2013).
Gebert, who will play Division I women’s lacrosse next season at Temple University, has received several honors throughout her playing career.
At the conclusion of her senior season, she was named to the Philadelphia Region girls lacrosse All-American team by the U.S. Lacrosse Association for the second consecutive season.
She has been selected First Team All-PAC-10 and All-Area during both her junior and senior seasons.
She finished her career with a school-record 255 goals to go along with 78 assists across her four-year career.
“For me, it didn’t matter if I was the one scoring goals or just helping run the offense,” she said. “The most important thing to all of us was winning games and getting better every day.”
Like a piece of art, Gebert only got better with time.
She finished her freshman season with 21 goals then followed with 62 during her sophomore season.
“My first two years –it was a lot of behind-the-scenes work,” said Gebert. “I’d stay late after practice and do extra. I’d go home after practice and shoot some more. I knew that’s what it would take for me to get where I wanted to be.”
That’s when it all came together.
Paired alongside classmate Kerry Huzzard, Gebert became a main focal point on the Wildcat attack during her junior season. Scoring 83 goals on the year, Gebert led the Wildcats to an undefeated run through the regular season before they captured their first PAC-10 title in 14 seasons.
This past season, Gebert totaled 89 goals and 14 assists, leading OJR back to the PAC-10 title again and eventually into a state playoff berth.
“Coming into the season, we knew we had the potential to be at states,” said Gebert, “but I think once we got there, there were times where all of us sort of looked around and said ‘Wow, look how far we are.’
“It was an unforgettable experience for all of us.”
As she begins to look toward her collegiate career on Broad Street, Gebert hopes Bucktown can become a force similar to what Boyertown started years ago in the PAC-10.
Despite the loss of Gebert, Huzzard, goalkeeper Sara Maute and defender Courtney Gerber to graduation, OJR will return a slew of its starting lineup including several players who gained valuable varsity experience over the past couple of seasons.
“It was really cool for us to end our careers as two-time PAC-10 champions,” said Gebert. “Hopefully that’s something that the younger girls will strive toward. Who knows, maybe we can pull a Boyertown and beat their streak.”
While at Temple, Gebert will have the chance to play and learn alongside some recognizable talent over the next four seasons.
If her high school career is any indication, a little time learning and she could become an all-time talent.