Owen J. Roberts girls lacrosse storms past Methacton in battle of unbeatens

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE >> The Owen J. Roberts girls lacrosse team is on a mission.

So far, it’s going well for the Wildcats. After dominant wins over reigning PIAA champion Conestoga and Garnet Valley, the team that knocked Owen J. Roberts out of the postseason last year, the Wildcats entered Wednesday’s duel with Methacton riding a tsunami of momentum.

That tidal wave — ranked No. 1 by phillylacrosse.com — had much to play for, having been upset by the Warriors in last year’s Pioneer Athletic Conference championship. This time, it was Owen J. Roberts that came out on top after thumping Methacton, 16-1.

“There was definitely a bit of added motivation. That PAC loss was hard for all of us,” senior midfielder Alexa Vogelman said. “Coming out this year, we’re a little bit senior-heavy, so we know what it feels like to lose those kinds of games. We’re trying not to make the same mistake, take it one game at a time and use those losses as motivation moving forward.”

Vogelman — a two-time All-American committed to Syracuse — buried the first of 11 first-half goals for the Wildcats (7-0, 2-0) with an inside cut and finish two minutes into the game. She put up a game-high six goals on seven shots with three assists on the day.

Gabbi Koury — also a two-time All-American committed to the University of Florida — scored the following two goals and put away four altogether on nine shots with four assists.

Liberty-bound Blakely Doyle had a hat trick while Kalli Mullen (assist) found the back of the net twice and Ava Clemson (two assists) added a goal.

Firmly ranked No. 1 in District 1 Class 3A with nine seniors and a roster loaded to the gills with Division I talent, Owen J. Roberts has no shortage of hype in southeastern Pennsylvania. But the season is young, and this group remembers the sting of postseason shortcomings.

It’s a lesson that hasn’t been forgotten during wins over District 1’s best thus far.

“Those games definitely boost our confidence, but we’ve been preaching at practice that those games, they’re just a win,” Vogelman said. “They don’t really mean that much, just a win in the stat book. We haven’t really won anything yet.”

Owen J. Roberts’ Laina Grimm, left, and Methacton’s Giada Catoia, right, battle for a ground ball during a PAC Liberty girls lacrosse game at Methacton High School on April 5. (Evan Wheaton – MediaNews Group)

Methacton’s lone goal came from senior midfielder Michelle Zhai on a wraparound with 19 minutes left in the game to make it 11-1 in favor of the Wildcats.

Last year marked the Warriors’ first PAC title in program history. But last spring also marked the departure of 16 seniors for Methacton (6-1, 2-1). Zhai and Megan Sanelli, an All-Mercury midfielder, are the anchors of this year’s squad.

But with nine caused turnovers, 10 draw controls, 23 ground balls, dominant time of possession and a swarming defense, Owen J. Roberts locked down every phase of the PAC Liberty draw between the two.

“I’ll be very honest, OJR shut both of my star players down completely. For some reason, the first game we play them, it’s like a deer in headlights,” said Methacton coach Laurie Markle, noting an 18-1 loss for the Warriors in the initial meeting of the two last year.

Methacton midfielder Michelle Zhai (16) winds back for a pass to Brayden Williams during in a PAC Liberty girls lacrosse game against Owen J. Roberts at Methacton High School on April 5. (Evan Wheaton – MediaNews Group)

While the Warriors are young, this year’s Owen J. Roberts squad has been one in the making for years, built up and crafted for the moment at hand.

Fifth-year coach David Schlesinger has overseen the development of eight of his seniors — all Division I commits — having coached them in NXT Black club lax since they were rising seventh graders.

During that time, Schlesinger has instilled that discipline to live in the present, not the eventual postseason. On Wednesday, the Wildcats were living it well.

“Part of our focus, the way we coach, is to stay in the moment and to win the moment. Win the draw, win the ground ball, win the one-on-one defense,” Schlesinger said. “If you connect a bunch of small moments together, you end up having a nice victory.”

Owen J. Roberts’ Cailin Harrington (8) drives past Methacton’s Alyssa Sardo (23) near the sideline during a PAC Liberty girls lacrosse game at Methacton High School on April 5. (Evan Wheaton – MediaNews Group)

Korrigan Sweeney made five saves in net for Owen J. Roberts and McKenzie Hagerty had one.

Having held five teams to two goals or less and outscoring opponents 112-19 through seven games, the Wildcats already look like midseason form.

“We’re making the most of the moment, but we’re also learning from the moment,” Vogelman said. “Every game we learn something new, every game we get better and every game we’re building on what we’re doing.”

Owen J. Roberts 16, Methacton 1


Owen J. Roberts: Vogelman 6 goals, 3 assists; Koury 4 goals, 4 assists; Doyle 3 goals; Mullen 2 goals, assist; Clemson goal, 2 assists
Methacton: Zhai goal

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