by Tom Utescher
In the last of many make-up games necessitated by rain-outs this spring, Penn Charter and host Springside School rang down the curtain on lacrosse season last Tuesday, with PC taking a 13-3 decision after gaining a commanding 10-2 advantage in the first half.
Charter wound up smack in the middle of the final standings in the Girls Inter-Ac League, coming in fourth with a record of 6-6, while posting an overall mark of 12-8. The Quakers swept their season series against Springside, Germantown Academy, and Agnes Irwin, while losing twice to Episcopal, Notre Dame, and Baldwin.
Meanwhile, no one at Springside was particularly upset to leave the 2011 campaign behind them. Sparing all the gory details, suffice it to say that an 8-7 non-league victory over Interboro High School back on April 1 was the Lions’ only entry in the “W” column all season.
“I absolutely think progress was made, and I’m excited at having almost the entire team coming back,” said Springside alumna and first-year head coach Lydia (Barber) Imperiale. “I think I’m the first coach in four years who’s coming back next year, so we want to take advantage of that by getting in a lot of work in the off-season.”
The Lions graduate just two seniors, attacker Annelise Davies (West Chester University) and goalie Hilary McDonnell (Vassar).
“There’s a lot of potential,” Imperiale observed. “They’re coachable girls with a lot of ability. We just really need to work on consistency, playing at a high level the whole game.”
The Quakers also have a young squad overall, with 17 freshmen and sophomores on the varsity roster. The senior tri-captains are Kate Higgins and Blaine Steinberg, who will play lacrosse at Gettysburg and Dartmouth, respectively, and Liz Wills, who’ll join the field hockey team at Bucknell.
“Our freshmen and sophomores have really stepped up and matured, and adapted to high school lacrosse,” said Higgins. “They have a lot of heart and hustle.”
The senior felt that PC’s May 21 victory over Baldwin (16-9) in the Pa. Independent Schools tournament was significant, given the fact that the Quakers lost to the Bears twice in their regular-season series.
“Baldwin was a huge win for us, because it showed how much we’ve developed,” she said.
The day before last week’s Springside game, Charter lost an Indy tournament game to Girls Inter-Ac champ Episcopal Academy, 14-6. Top-seeded Episcopal was heavily favored to win the tourney, since league rival Notre Dame Academy, which lost two one-goal games to EA in the regular season, did not participate in the post-season event.
A minute-and-a-half into Tuesday’s contest at Springside, Higgins received a long pass from mid-field from Steinberg and drove in to score. Springside answered two minutes later, when Ellie Stout fed the ball from behind the cage to set up a shot by fellow junior Libbie Maine.
The Quakers quickly regained the lead as freshman Julia Fleming banged in back-to-back goals less than two minutes apart, and this proved to be the beginning of a decisive 6-0 surge. Springside finally deposited a second goal with 5:32 remaining in the first half. Lions sophomore Kitty Morrissey blazed down the middle of the field a drew a foul in the arc, then converted off of the free position.
In the final four minutes of the period, Higgins sandwiched her third and fourth goals of the day around junior Amanda Fleming’s second, putting PC up 10-2 at the intermission.
“Our defense needs to communicate more,” Springside’s Imperiale pointed out. “We need to react faster with our slides, and just play at a faster pace in general. We’ll check the ball out, but then the other team will get the ground ball.”
Players like Morrissey and Maine give the Lions good speed through the midfield, but the team needs to parlay an effective transition game into points on the scoreboard.
“Good things happen out there,” Imperiale said. “We’ll make some great plays, but then we don’t finish. That’s been our struggle all year.”
In the second period on Tuesday, Penn Charter pushed its lead into double digits at 12-2 before Springside’s final goal of the day, another free-position strike by Morrissey. Quakers sophomore Margot Pighini locked in the final score at 13-3.
Higgins came away with five goals, and there were two apiece for Amanda Fleming, Julia Fleming, and tenth-grader Emma Ebert. Another sophomore, Kelly Kubach, made six saves as PC’s starting goalie before turning over the cage to junior Rachel Weiner, who made three stops. Springside received four saves from McDonnell, one of the two Lions who’ll be lost to graduation.
“Tasmin Lamb [a junior] will be coming up from the JV,” noted Springside’s Imperiale. “This was her first year as goalie, but she’s a natural athlete and she’s catching on quickly.”
Another departing senior, PC’s Higgins, is eagerly looking forward to playing for Gettysburg, which defeated Bowdoin College on May 22 to win the 2011 NCAA Division III National Championship.
Higgins will be joined in the Bullets’ next freshman class by Ali Clark of Episcopal Academy, Taylor Lawlor of Conestoga, and Megan Nearing of Methacton High School.
“Since a lot of the recruits live in this area, I think we’ll try and get together this summer and work on some conditioning and some stick skills,” the PC senior said. “It’s going to be another step up to the college level.”