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Villa Maria lacrosse off to spirited start in state opener

Lower Providence >> Coming off a District 1 2A girls lacrosse championship, Villa Maria Academy (20-2) didn’t suffer a letdown in its PIAA 2A state tournament opener against Wyomissing Tuesday, winning 16-4. By halftime, the district champs led 11-1.
One Hurricane who was charged up for the state opener was Hurricane senior midfielder and co-captain Lizzie Walheim, who was all over the field on the hot afternoon, scoring three goals, dishing out two assists and scooping up three ground balls.
“I was especially excited for today’s game,” said Walheim, who will be continuing her lacrosse career at Fairfield University this fall. “It’s the start of a new tournament, and it’s not like there’s another [tourney] coming along for us after that. We wanted to set a strong tempo early.”
Wyomissing, the third-place finisher from District 3, controlled the ball for much of the first few minutes, and no one scored in the first 5 ½ minutes. Villa Maria defender Kristy Kucia broke the scoring ice 5:32 into the contest, then the Hurricanes ran off three quick goals in 33 seconds to take a 4-0 lead.
“You always need that kick start, and our first goal – from a defender [Kucia] – got us going,” said Villa Maria head coach Allie Sweeney. “We started a little slow, but after that first goal, we took a deep breath and settled down.”
“It was a little hard [early] in the heat and humidity today, but we knew we had to be smart with the ball, work with our passes and not just fly around,” said Walheim. “We started to have strong possessions [after the first few minutes].”
With the victory, Villa Maria advances to the PIAA state quarterfinal Saturday, where the Hurricanes will face Penncrest, the No. 3 seed in District 1.
Tuesday, Villa Maria’s defense was tough for Wyomissing to crack, as the Hurricanes did not surrender a goal for nearly 18 minutes and led 7-0 with a little more than seven minutes before halftime. Margie Carden picked up four ground balls, and sophomore defender Biz Corr made two key interceptions coming off the bench.
Whatever the Villa Maria didn’t stop, Hurricane goalie Maddie Medve usually made a nice play on, recording 10 saves.
“Maddie’s been on a roll lately,” noted Sweeney.
With 7:07 to go before halftime, Joanna Helm finally broke the scoring ice for Wyomissing, and wound up scoring all four of their goals.
The remainder of the first half, Villa continued to build its lead, and when Walheim scored twice in the last four minutes before halftime, the Hurricanes held an 11-1 lead at the half. Walheim and the Finley sisters (Bridget and Erin) combined for eight of the Hurricanes’ 11 first-half goals.
The Hurricanes had many scoring opportunities Tuesday, and took 33 shots during the game.
“We had tons of scoring chances, but 16-for-33 is not a great ratio,” said Sweeney. “We need to execute a little better as we get further into States and face increasingly tougher opponents.”
Bridget Finley, Erin Finley and Lizzie Walheim each had a hat trick, Margie Carden scored two goals, and Sarah Delaney, Caroline Antell, Sophia Crossed, Paige DeMutis and Kucia each tallied once.
Nine of the Hurricanes’ 16 goals were assisted – both Walheims (Lizzie and Abby) and both Finleys (Bridget and Erin) dished out two assists.

Villa Maria Academy 16, Wyomissing 4
Wyomissing 1 3 – 4
Villa Maria 11 5 – 16
Wyomissing goals: Helm 4.
Villa Maria goals: B. Finley 3, E. Finley 3, L. Walheim 3, Carden 2, Delaney, Antell, Kucia, Crossed, DeMutis.
Goalie saves: Benino (WY) 10, Medve (VMA) 10.

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