by Tom Utescher
Historically, not many sporting events are scheduled between Germantown Friends School and Mount St. Joseph Academy, but when neither of the lacrosse teams at the two schools appeared on the schedule for the annual Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival last weekend, a meeting was arranged for Saturday afternoon down at GFS.
The host Tigers led the non-league match most of the way, but the visiting Magic evened the score at 9-9 and then 10-10 early in the second half before Germantown drew away once more to record a 15-12 victory.
Many of the players on the two squads have actually known one another for some time from their club lacrosse activities, and second-year Mount head coach Lindsay Colferai (also an assistant coach with the team at Chestnut Hill College) has worked with a number of the GFS girls at the club level.
Mount senior Natalie Bohner, whose mother once starred at the old Springside School, fired a game-high six goals for the visitors, while a list of six GFS scorers was led by Annie Tyson, whose five-goal total included three of the Tigers’ last five markers as they held off the Magic late in the game.
Heading into May, and the home stretch of the regular season, the two teams are in quite different positions in their respective leagues. GFS (8-2 overall) leads the Friends Schools League with a 4-0 record that includes a 19-8 rout of defending champ Friends Central. The Tigers are looking to make a run deep into the Pa. Independent Schools championships, but first they want to take care of business in the FSL tourney, where they’ve lost to Friends Central in the finals for four years in a row.
In Catholic Academies competition, Mount St. Joe’s 5-3 record reflects setbacks against Villa Maria and Gwynedd Mercy as well as perennial power Merion Mercy in the first round of league games. However, the Villa and Gwynedd games were close contests and the Magic can realistically hope to reverse those results the second time though the schedule. A young squad with just two seniors on the entire roster, the Mount was 6-5 overall after Saturday’s tussle with the Tigers.
Longtime GFS head coach Katie Bergstrom Mark said that after the Mount made its run to tie the game early in the second half, “We really figured out our transition and got the ball up the field much more cleanly. It was also nice to have six different player score. That balance on offense is another thing we strive for.”
For Saturday’s match, GFS had junior defender Sarah Kane out of action entirely due to a concussion, while fellow 11th grader Greta Meyer (an attacker who has verbally committed to Stanford) was just easing back into the line-up after a calf muscle injury.
The younger sister of the Mount’s Natalie Bohner, Meredith, has been sidelined all season with an ACL affliction, and recently the Magic have been missing a key component in their midfield, with starting sophomore center Isabella Balcer out sick.
MSJ’s Colferai revealed, “We’ve sort of been struggling with everyone trying to find their roles, and even though the outcome wasn’t in our favor [at GFS], this was one of the better team efforts we’ve had in a while. I told the girls that GFS is a very solid team, and that if we didn’t have everybody out there willing to play hard, we ran the risk of getting blown out.”
Mount St. Joe was the early aggressor, getting out to a 2-0 lead. Sophomore M.K. Maloney opened the scoring two-and-a-half minutes in after a receiving a pass from Bohner, who then put in the first of her six goals. Junior Ava Schwemler got Germantown going, cradling through the arc to score and then finding the net again off of a free position.
Meyer moved the Tigers ahead as she angled in from the left of the cage, then free-position conversions by junior Grayson Melby and senior Sydney Weigert had the hosts up 5-2.
Bohner came from behind the cage for a shot that got the visitors back within two, but then Tyson’s first two goals for GFS touched off a 4-1 surge for the Tigers, making it a 9-4 affair heading into the final five minutes of the first half. Mount St. Joe was able to improve its lot by the break, though, as Bohner and junior Amanda Steinberg got their club back to a more manageable three-goal shortfall, at 9-6.
Colferai, the Magic’s mentor, did not hesitate to reach deep down her bench and make plenty of substitutions.
“I did a lot of subbing because I felt this was a game where we couldn’t allow a long learning curve,” she explained. “It’s not the beginning of the season, so my feeling was that when I put someone on the field I wanted them to go to work and perform, or they were coming out.”
A new entry at the start of the second half, freshman Casey McKeever, scored a little over a minute into the new period. Back-to-back strikes by sophomore Abby Aita, one of them assisted by McKeever, tied the match at 9-9 with less than four minutes elapsed, and GFS called a time-out.
While a lot of the Tigers’ firepower comes from the junior class, most of the defensive unit is composed of senior veterans, including Katherine Cusick, Caroline Myran, Claire Schmidt, and goalie Dana Schulman.
Coach Bergstrom Mark related, “When the Mount came back to tie us, our seniors really helped settle us down. We made sure we were communicating and playing together, and supporting each other in a positive way, instead of nitpicking about who was to blame for a breakdown.”
Germantown seized the next draw and Tyson relayed the ball to Meyer, who put GFS in front, 10-9. The Magic quickly forged a second tie at 10-all thanks to Bohner, but after that consecutive goals by Schwemler and Tyson (the third of the match for each player) gave GFS the lead for good.
Bohner fired her fifth of the day to bring Mount St. Joe back within one point with a dozen minutes to go. At the far end, the Tigers’ Tyson scored first from the left and then from the right side of the arc, and after the second of these goals GFS went back down the field and had Meyer complete a personal hat trick.
The home team was now ahead by four (15-11), and the game clock soon slipped under five minutes. The Tigers drained more time off the ticker by going into an effective stall, practicing a tactic that could be quite useful in the upcoming Friends League and independent schools playoffs. MSJ’s Bohner completed her productive afternoon with a goal in the final minute, but GFS was still left with a three-point margin.
In addition to Tyson’s five goals and the hat tricks for Meyer and Schwemler, the victors received two goals from Melby and one apiece from Weigert and University of Cincinnati signee Schuyler Nissen. Backing up Bohner for the Mount were Aita, with three goals, and single markers for Maloney, McKeever, and Steinberg.
Mount St. Joe’s Colferai remarked afterwards, “With our game limits [in the PIAA] I can only get in four out-of-league games, and I thought this turned out to be a good one to have. Both teams played with a lot of heart, and I think a lot of the girls had fun matching up against their club teammates.”