Koury breaks school record, Owen J. Roberts wins ninth PAC girls lacrosse championship in rout of Boyertown

KING OF PRUSSIA >> A year removed from a monumental upset, Owen J. Roberts has recaptured lightning in a bottle.

The Wildcats rolled over Boyertown, 21-1 in Thursday’s championship to secure the program’s ninth Pioneer Athletic Conference title and seventh within the last nine years.

The new hardware for a rapidly growing trophy case at Owen J. Roberts (18-1) comes at the expense of Boyertown, which was playing in its first PAC final since 2018 (also against OJR). After being stunned by Methacton on the same stage last season, the Wildcats were undeniable in 2023. The Wildcats first routed the Warriors 18-2 in Tuesday’s semifinal to punch their ticket to the final and ultimately complete their revenge tour.

“Last year, we learned a big lesson. We came out slow, it was not a great game for us,” senior midfielder Gabbi Koury said on last year’s final. “That lesson has taught us. This season, we’ve kept our foot on the gas every single game. Especially this one.”

Koury had her pedal held to the floor.

On the heels of scoring her 400th point in just three seasons two days prior, the two-time All-American and University of Florida pledge amassed a game-high six goals, four assist and made five draw controls with eight ground balls, greasing an engine ranked No. 16 in the nation by Inside Lacrosse and No. 1 in Class 3A by phillylacrosse.com.

The Owen J. Roberts girls lacrosse team shows its excitement after winning the PAC championship with a 21-1 victory over Boyertown in the final on Thursday, May 11, 2023 at Upper Merion. (Mike Cabrey – MediaNews Group)

While padding the stats, Koury also bolstered her legacy. As the seconds ticked off the running clock just before halftime, she was fed a pass by Laina Grimm and buried a shot at the buzzer to take a 15-1 lead into the break. Koury’s goal marked the 256th of her varsity career, breaking the Owen J. Roberts scoring record of 255 set by Maddie Gebert in 2016.

“Obviously Maddie had it before me and she’s an amazing player. We all as a team have been striving to be great this year, so I give credit to my teammates, especially on that last-second shot by Laina Grimm. Couldn’t have been a more perfect pass,” Koury said on the milestone.

The Wildcats enacted the running clock with 11:48 to go in the first half. Koury fed Ava Clemson a pass over the middle in transition and the latter dumped it off to Grimm, who boosted Owen J. Roberts 11-1 with a top-shelf shot from just outside the crease.

Alexa Vogelman — also a two-time All-American committed to Syracuse — put up five goals and five assists. Blakely Doyle (Liberty) scored a hat trick while Colby Wasson (Xavier) and Grimm tacked on a pair of goals apiece, the latter tallying three assists.

Koury sandwiched a Vogelman goal between two of her own within the first three minutes for a quick 3-0 lead. Following the senior middie duo were goals from Clemson and Doyle for a 5-0 run from the opening draw.

Boyertown (13-6) then responded, scoring its lone goal of the night. Adison Harmer connected with Peyton Shellaway to net one with 19:11 to go in the first half.

Owen J. Roberts’ Gabbi Koury (22) drives towards the net for a goal against Boyertown during their first half of the PAC final on Thursday, May 11, 2023 at Upper Merion. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

While Owen J. Roberts has been “the new kid on the block” this past decade, Boyertown is much the old guard. The Bears have racked up a PAC-high 19 conference titles, the most recent coming in 2014 with a 17-6 win over Phoenixville.

As the PAC runner-up, Boyertown sits at No. 16 in the District 1-3A field ahead of postseason play.

“I am, as well as the entire coaching staff, so proud of this team of young women to get to the PAC playoffs as well as reach the championship,” Bears coach Pam Wernersbach said. “Coming into the season, I don’t suspect that anyone would believe that we would be in this position.

“The leadership and character provided by the senior class has been incredibly important in our development as a team. We look forward to having the opportunity to compete in districts.”

The night was also one of coronation for Owen J. Roberts’ senior class. The win marked the group’s first PAC championship in the tournament format, having lost their freshman season to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the absence of playoffs in 2021 and an upset to Methacton last year.

Rent was due, and a senior class that includes eight Division I players cashed their checks ahead of graduation.

“To come back and win this, this is one of our principle goals of the season,” Owen J. Roberts coach David Schlesinger said, noting the program’s last win of the tournament format in 2019. “We’re very excited to return the plaque to our school.”

Owen J. Roberts’ Laina Grimm (3) and Gabbi Koury (22) celebrate after Grimm’s goal against Boyertown in the first half of the PAC final on Thursday, May 11, 2023 at Upper Merion. (Mike Cabrey – MediaNews Group)

Schlesinger, in his fifth year at the helm of the program, has overseen the formation of the NXT Black 2023 team that features much of the OJR starting lineup reach their senior seasons. And that group currently holds the No. 2 spot in the District 1-3A rankings behind top-ranked Springfield-Delco.

With the lone loss of the year coming at the hands of 2A Archbishop Carroll and early-season wins over reigning PIAA champion Conestoga and Garnet Valley — the team that knocked Owen J. Roberts out of the postseason last year — the Wildcats are making a push to add another notch on their belts.

“The season’s not over. 2019, 2021, 2022, we got knocked out of districts and states in the quarterfinals all three years. It’s time to get over the hump,” Schlesinger said. “Everything we’ve done all season is building up to those moments that are still to come.”

Owen J. Roberts 21, Boyertown 1


Boyertown: Shellaway goal; Harmer assist.
Owen J. Roberts: Koury 6 goals, 4 assists; Vogelman 5 goals, 5 assists; Doyle 3 goals; Grimm 2 goals, 3 assists; Wasson 2 goals; Clemson goal, 2 assists; Karas goal; Sbei goal.

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