A midfielder’s responsibilities in girls lacrosse require being all over the field but that’s one of the reasons Keri Barnett enjoys playing the position.
“I love running, I love playing defense,” Barnett said. “I feel midfielders don’t really like defense as much but I love playing defense and again just wherever we needed it, I just like to help.”
And with her superb play in her senior season, Barnett – the 2021 The Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year – helped Archbishop Carroll to a fantastic year as the Patriots continued to dominate the Philadelphia Catholic League and went on to claim the program’s second PIAA championship.
“Honestly the beginning of the season for us as a team we kind of were struggling,” Barnett said. “We knew we had the potential to be really good but we just couldn’t step through that rough patch. And then once we lost to Garnet (Valley), I believe it was, we were kind of like ‘OK guys, we need to step it up.’
“And then we started playing the better non-league teams like Conestoga, Radnor and all of those, so it was good practice for the state championship. And honestly getting there and all the hard work we put in this season, all of our practices and everything we just worked really hard and it meant a lot.”
Barnett finished with 57 goals – scoring 14 during Carroll’s four Class 2A state tournament games – and totaled a team-high 61 draw controls as the Patriots went 20-4, claimed their 20th straight PCL title and won the PIAA championship for the first time since earning the 3A crown in 2017.
The Catholic League Most Valuable Player, Barnett – who transferred to Carroll after her first two high school years at Interboro – was also named a US Lacrosse All-American for the Eastern Pennsylvania region.
“Just kind of stepping up where we needed it,” said Barnett, who will continue her lacrosse career at West Chester University. “I play midfield so I kind of have to run both sides of the field so wherever we needed it – on the draw, that obviously sets the tone a lot. I really had to study getting better at the draw and everything.
“And then playing defense I had to work on being in better shape in the offseason too to be able to run that much and to stay in it for them. And just like all the stuff in the midfield, all the ground balls, the 50/50 balls and everything and just honestly wherever we needed it.”
After 10-8 loss to Garnet Valley in the season’s second game, the Patriots allowed just five goals in ripping off nine straight wins – eight in PCL play. Carroll followed by going 3-3 against a tough run of nonleague contest, including falling to both Radnor (10-8), the eventually 3A state champ and Conestoga, which reached the 3A state semis.
The loss to ‘Stoga May 8, however, was the Patriots’ final setback in 2021. After besting Springfield-Delco and St. Hubert to end the regular season 14-4, Carroll earned its 20th consecutive league title, topping Bonner & Prendergast 20-0 in the semis then Cardinal O’Hara 16-4 in the final. Against O’Hara, Barnett recorded four goals, seven draw controls, a caused turnover and a ground ball as the Patriots won their 252nd straight PCL game.
“It clicked right when we started playing like the more non-leagues because it was just obviously more challenging and we had to step up so we started clicking then and at practice too,” Barnett said. “We were just being more positive and just the overall environment was better and that obviously helped to win the championship too.”
Barnett had two goals, two draw controls and a ground ball as Archbishop Carroll opened the 2A state tournament with a 16-4 win over Mount St. Joseph. Barnett then tallied six goals in the 21-9 win over Villa Maria in the quarterfinals.
Mother Nature ended up being one of the Patriots’ toughest obstacles to the PIAA final as their semifinal against Twin Valley needed three days to complete.
After originally slated for Tuesday, June 8, the matchup was pushed to the following day, where it was stopped due to weather in the first half then again 15:51 in the second before being postponed to Thursday. Carroll finally came away with a 14-9 win with Barnett scoring twice in the contest.
“That was different,” Barnett said. “I don’t think anyone that I know went through that. It was definitely very challenging. We played over the course of three days so it was playing like three different games.
“Turning it one and off was very challenging and like the seniors and everyone, we had to keep everyone mentally there and just kind of stay in it and like the last day were where like ‘OK, if we don’t win we’re done.’ So we kind of had to forget about everything and just play.”
Bennett capped her senior year with a strong performance in the state final, scoring four goals, collecting five draw controls and dishing out an assist as the Patriots erased a 4-2 halftime deficit to beat Strath Haven 14-6 for the Class 2A gold.
“I think just going into it we were exhausted from the games before and our mind wasn’t really there in the beginning,” Bennett said. “So at halftime Coach Beers and the rest of the coaches we just kind of settled down, talked for a little bit and was like we’ve came this far, we just have to finish it out.
“The energy was definitely better in the second half and we started getting more draws and the fast breaks and everything helped change it around.”
Barnett next heads to West Chester looking to follow in the footsteps of her sister Sami, a standout with the Golden Rams who helped WCU reach the Division II title game in 2019. Keri is set to major in nursing – both her sister and mother work as nurses.
“I visited some schools and everything and West Chester was the first camp that I went to I think in eighth grade because my sister played there,” Keri Barnett said. “Everything just always just led back to West Chester. I just couldn’t see myself going anywhere else. It just felt like home and I couldn’t leave that.”