Bishop Shanahan starts fast, beats Strath Haven for first district title

DOWNINGTOWN >> Bursting out of the gates for a quick 5-0 advantage, Bishop Shanahan battled for a 14-9 win against No. 2 seed Strath Haven in the PIAA District 1 2A girls’ lacrosse championship final Thursday.

For the host Eagles (16-3), the top seed in the tourney, it was their first District 1 2A title in program history. It didn’t come easy against a persistent Strath Haven squad that kept pecking away at the Eagles’ lead.

Shanahan’s fast start was crucial against Strath Haven (16-5-1).

“Our girls’ energy coming right out of the gate was awesome,” said Shanahan head coach Kacy Small. “I think they knew what they were doing, and they kind of jumped out with a spark, and luckily, we were able to ride that forward.”

“We came out with intensity, we came out with energy, we were ready to play,” said Shanahan senior tri-captain Lila Ceribelli, who scored four goals Thursday and handled the draw controls adeptly. “It’s like we knew from pre-game warm-ups that we were winning this. Winning the title is an amazing feeling.”

Ceribelli got the Eagles going quickly out of the gate, winning the opening draw control and scoring 10 seconds later. Two minutes later, Shanahan junior midfielder Sophia Lymberis fired one home from close range and the Eagles led 2-0.

The Eagles got three more goals in a span of less than two minutes, from Ceribelli, senior attack Olivia Murphy (assisted by Ceribelli) and Lymberis. Ceribelli was winning most of the draw controls early in the game, and the hosts held a 5-0 lead with 17:29 to go before halftime.

Then Strath Haven began to come back, and began to take more control of the draw control as the game went on.

“I think putting senior defender McKenzie Raech on the draw gave us a little spark that we needed,” said Strath Haven head coach Pigeon Graham. “She’s really feisty with ground balls, and she just had a little different look for [Shanahan] and I think that made a little bit of a difference for sure.”

Midway through the first half, Strath Haven senior midfielder Devon Maillet fired in two quick goals to cut the Eagles’ lead to 5-2. Maillet, a Colgate University commit, finished with six goals on the day.

After a long possession by the Eagles, Shanahan junior midfielder Ellie Udo fed Lymberis for the latter’s third goal of the first half and a 6-2 lead with 4:50 to go before halftime.

With 31.4 seconds to go in the first half, Udo scored to give the hosts a 7-3 lead at the break.

The first few minutes of the second half were like a repeat of the beginning of the opening period, with Ceribelli winning several draw controls, and the Eagles getting two quick goals (from Hubiak and Ceribelli, the latter tallying 14 seconds into the half) for a 9-3 Shanahan lead with 23:45 left.

“Lila crushed the draw controls for the second game in a row,” noted Small. “Even when she doesn’t get it, she’s responsible for our wing play.”

In the next five minutes, Strath Haven picked up momentum for a 4-0 run, with two goals each from Maillet and senior midfielder Danielle McNeely (a Monmouth University commit), to cut Shanahan’s lead to 9-7 with 17:22 to go.

By the end of the game, Maillet and McNeely scored all nine of Strath Haven’s goals.

“Our senior midfielders [Maillet and McNeely] definitely take charge of our attack, they are really the heart and soul of our team,” said Graham, whose squad now advances to the PIAA 2A state tournament.

Bishop Shanahan fought back with a 4-0 run of its own, spanning seven minutes, with scores from sophomore attack Silvia Baptista, senior tri-captain Michelle Warren, Ceribelli (assisted by Warren) and Udo. When Udo worked her way through the Strath Haven defense for a goal from close range, the hosts led 13-7 with 9:47 to play.

One of the keys to Shanahan’s defense Thursday was junior goalie CeCe Neman, who made nine crucial saves.

“CeCe did an awesome job,” noted Small.

With six minutes to play, Maillet tallied two quick goals to cut the Eagles’ lead to 13-9 with 5:25 to play, but the Panthers scored no more the rest of the game.

Warren’s second goal of the contest, with 3:47 left, closed the scoring for the day.

“Winning this title means the world to me,” said Warren. “We’ve been working so hard for this for four years. The energy of our defense was incredible today.”

Shanahan had seven different goal scorers Thursday, compared to two for Strath Haven.

“Michelle Warren, Ellie Udo, Soph Lymberis, Liv Murphy were all huge for us on offense,” said Small. “Paris Masaracchia was great for us on defense and in transition.”

Small also praised senior defender and tri-captain Darby Whalen, who will play lacrosse for the U.S. Naval Academy next spring.

“Darby is the heart of our defense,” said Small. “She runs our defense, and we switched out of a couple of defenses today, so she’s been huge for us. We were doing a great job of winning our defensive matchups, and not giving Strath Haven really any easy goals.”

Whalen said, “I feel like we worked really hard for last year’s seniors that didn’t get an opportunity to win it last year. We kept them in our hearts and we really won it for them. We’re a really close-knit team, we’re a family.”

It’s been a memorable month for Bishop Shanahan, who two weeks ago won its first-ever Ches-Mont girls’ lacrosse title. Following Thursday’s title game, the Shanahan senior tri-captains praised Small.

Ceribelli, who will play lacrosse for Elon University next spring, said, “Kacy came in here brand-new four years ago and we just built the program up from there.”

Warren, who will play lacrosse for Rutgers, said, “Kacy treats us like his own kids – he has such a specific way of coaching, he knows how to [reach] us, not just as players but as people.”

Both Bishop Shanahan and Strath Haven now advance to the PIAA 2A state tournament.

Graham noted, “We had a pretty easy [district] tournament until today, and I knew Shanahan was going to be a really tough team and was going to put a lot of pressure on us. It took us a minute to get on track, to get to what we needed to do. Our kids really battled. We have some young players who made some immature decisions, and Bishop Shanahan was good – they were aggressive, they were fast.”


Bishop Shanahan 14, Strath Haven 9

Strath Haven                3       6       –        9

Bishop Shanahan         7       7       –        14

Strath Haven goals: Malliet 6, McNeely 3.

Bishop Shanahan goals: Ceribelli 4, Lymberis 3, Warren 2, Udo 2, Murphy, S. Baptista, Hubiak.

Goalie saves: SH – Spaulding 9; BS – Newman 9.

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