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Browndorf leads the way as Upper Dublin tops Gwynedd Mercy Academy

LOWER GWYNEDD >> Everywhere Upper Dublin girls lacrosse coach Dee Cross looked on her stat sheet Tuesday afternoon, Becky Browndorf’s name kept popping up.

From goals and assists to ground balls and caused turnovers and on to draw controls, the midfielder’s name had a lot of tallies next to it as Cross looked things over. It also made the longtime UD coach very happy, as it was just the type of performance the Flying Cardinals needed from their senior.

Paced by Browndorf, Upper Dublin started strong and made some key plays late to top host Gwynedd Mercy Academy 11-8 in a nonleague meeting.

“What we’ve been doing is relying on the second half to get up so today we focused on starting off hot,” Browndorf said. “We wanted to get the ball into our six (attackers) more so by playing a full game in both halves really worked for us.”

UD’s played a tough schedule to start the season with nonleague games against Archbishop Carroll and Downingtown West and a road trip to District 3 Wilson, plus an SOL American game against Hatboro-Horsham. In all four games, the Cardinals started slow and didn’t lead at halftime in any of them, so they wanted to change course on Tuesday.

With Browndorf playing both ends and contributing a goal and two asssits, the Cardinals did just that by jumping out to a 4-0 lead. It was UD’s defensive unit that really got things going, shutting the home team out of the scoring column for nearly 20 minutes to start the game.

Cardinals goalie Riley Brady saved the first five shots put on target and the Monarchs had the other five of their first 10 tries go wide of the cage, just the kind of start they couldn’t afford.

“Their goalie was stupendous, but we could have capitalized on some of those 10 shots,” GMA coach Deb Lawlor said. “Defensively, we didn’t really come around to the second half. If you don’t capitalize, they get possession and go down and score one after you didn’t capitalize, it’s a hard swallow.”

Lawlor and Cross go way back, as Lawlor played on the first team Cross served as the head coach of.

Browndorf, who has signed to play at Florida, not only tied for the UD lead in scoring with four goals but added three assists, three ground balls, a caused turnover and a team-high four draw control wins. The senior, who will likely play defense in college, has embraced being an all-around threat for the Cardinals this season and felt her strong game was a result of the entire team working together.

At the half, UD led 6-1 thanks to Brady stopping six of the seven shots on goal against her. Mack Moore, who’s been on fire for UD to start the season, had three goals and an assist for the visitors at the half and finished with four markers.

Browndorf and Moore combined brilliantly on the goal that made it 3-0, with Browndorf threading a low pass right into Moore’s stick that the junior rifled into the net.

“Mack’s just a competitor and if you give her the ball, she’s going to make something happen,” Cross said. “She wants to win. She has that fire, she’s one of the hardest workers I’ve coached and she’s going to put that all out there. She’s come a long way and has been the backbone of this team working with Becky and Jenn and the other players are stepping up around them.”

After Browndorf hit Julia Reardon to make it 9-2 with 22:26, the Monarchs got going. As a team that’s made a couple of second half surges this season, the Cardinals saw an all-too familiar script starting to unfold against them.

Emma Fiore, who had a hat-trick to lead GMA, scored a terrific goal to end a quick transition attack with 20:36 left to kick off a 5-1 Monarch run over the next 10 minutes. Grace Hirschmann had two goals, Nicole Conwell notched a goal and Fiore finished the spree to get the Monarchs within 10-7 with 10:20 left.

“We started to chip away and I looked at the clock, saw about 19 minutes left and thought ‘ok, plenty of time,’” Lawlor said. “Next time I looked, it was about 12 minutes left and we still had a little work to do. When it got to five and we still needed a couple goals, I think at that time it got a little too late. But not one time did these kids say ‘we’re done’ and check out.”

“That’s normally us, we’re always the ones trying to come back,” Browndorf said. “It was nice to see that we were up and as they were coming back, we recognized ‘this is what we do.’ We had to slow down their momentum. We wanted this win, we needed it so it was nice to find a way to pull it out.”

GMA, which faces a big test on Friday in defending state AA champion Villa Maria Academy, is looking to be at its best by the end of the season. To that end, the Monarchs are playing tougher nonleague games and holding themselves accountable.

“We’re able to have open lacrosse dialogue, IQ and set a goal that is achievable and we are really striving to,” Lawlor said. “What we say is also our actions too. You’re going to see some new things because we want to take ownership and that’s what I’m excited about.”

Brady made two key saves late as part of a 10-save game and UD re-established some control by getting back on a winning track inside the draw control circle. Moore and McCarry each won three in the game as UD held a 13-8 edge on the draw.

During Gwynedd’s run to get back in the game, Browndorf had scored the lone UD goal and with her team’s lead down to three, she came through again. The senior scored with 4:21 left in the game, knowing she had to do something to slow Gwynedd Mercy’s momentum.

“She’s excited about playing in college and knows is a whole new chapter in life but she’s not overlooking her senior year, which I’m thrilled with,” Cross said of Browndorf. “She does want to be that leader and she likes when the other girls learn and do things she does. She’s all over the field, she’s a defender but we need her in attack and she balances both and still runs the midfield. She really pours her heart into it.”

Coming off a loss Monday, Browndorf was really encouraged with how her teammates responded with a strong first half. It was the missing piece and the senior felt like it was a collective effort to create the energy that the Cardinals needed to avoid another slow start.

Browndorf paused when asked what her hopes were for this season then answered that on a personal level, she just wants to set a good example and foundation for the girls who will take over next year. On a team level, she’d like to lead the Cardinals on a postseason run.

“We’re playing for each other, not just ourselves,” Browndorf said. “We try to look for each other. I want to leave my mark so that next year, the girls are trying to reach that next level. You want to show the young girls what they can do, I look at it as helping that next generation.”

Goals-Assists: UD – Becky Browndorf 4-3, Mack Moore 4-2, Jenn McCarry 2-2, Julia Reardon 1-0; GMA – Emma Fiore 3-1, Grace Hirschmann 2-0, Carrie Johnston 2-0, Nicole Conwell 1-0, Alana Mandato 0-1. Shots: UD – 14, GMA – 18. Saves: UD – Riley Brady 10; GMA – Sarah Holland 3.

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