GFS senior Iris Williamson (right) drives past Notre Dame junior Kaileen O’Donnell during last week’s PAIS semifinal match. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Last week Germantown Friends battled past Shipley School, 18-16, in Monday’s quarterfinal round in the PA Independent Schools girls lacrosse championships, then the Tigers wrapped up their 2012 season the following afternoon, when they fell to the Academy of Notre Dame, 17-10.

GFS, which went undefeated in Friends Schools League regular-season games and then was runner-up in the league tournament, stowed away its sticks with an overall record of 18-4. In the tourney finals on Thursday, Notre Dame met fellow Girls Inter-Ac co-champion Episcopal Academy for the third time this spring, and the Irish lost, 9-7, to finish at 20-3 overall.

Germantown’s scoring in the PAIS semifinals was led by a four-goal effort from senior Annie Morrissey, who will play college lacrosse at Dartmouth. Her classmate Iris Williamson, a Penn recruit, had a hat trick in her final high school appearance.

The Indy Schools tournament began on May 18, with Penn Charter battling Hill School for a spot in the quarterfinals. PC won this lone play-in match, 15-5, as junior Emma Ebert, with four goals, topped a list of eight scorers for the Quakers. On Monday PC put up a good fight against Notre Dame before succumbing, 11-9. In the final outing of her freshman season, Avery Shoemaker fired four goals for Charter.

The same afternoon, GFS was hosting Shipley. Germantown’s 7-0 regular-season record in the FSL had included a 14-13 thriller against the Gators, and Shipley gave the Tigers another good run in the Indy quarterfinals, succumbing by two goals this time.

Yet another quarterfinal last Monday matched up Germantown Academy with Friends Central, the team that had knocked off GFS in the Friends League championship game on May 18. GA was the third-place team in the Girls Inter-Ac this spring, with the Patriots’ 8-4 record positioning them behind Notre Dame and Episcopal (each 11-1) and ahead of fourth-place PC (5-7).

Against Friends Central, GA prevailed 15-11 while marking down six goals for senior Brooke Kiley, who will be playing with GFS’s Williamson at Penn. Kiley cranked out another six goals in a Tuesday semifinal against Episcopal, but the Patriots lost the match, 12-9.

After a strong quarterfinal showing against Shipley on Monday, Germantown Friends kept pace with Notre Dame for about seven minutes in their Tuesday tilt, then began to fall behind as it had against Friends Central four days earlier. The teams had clashed in a regular-season bout on May 11, when the Irish pulled out a 14-12 win.

After their second encounter last Tuesday, Notre Dame coach Erin Cleary Cook said, “Germantown Friends is a really solid team. They have two or three girls who definitely will go to goal every time they have the ball, and today we were more prepared for that.”

Because the possibility of a thundershower was in the weather forecast, the higher-seeded Irish hosted the game off-campus on the artificial turf field at Haverford Reserve. At the outset, Morrissey and fellow senior Isabella Didio gave the visiting Tigers leads of 1-0 and 2-1. After the Irish scored back-to-back, Williamson leveled the count at 3-3 off of a free position with 18:11 still remaining in the first half.

Notre Dame senior Kristen Bandos, who will play for Georgetown University, had not been heard from up to this point, but now she started in on the visitors. She would penetrate the Tigers’ cage five times before the intermission as her club closed out the first period with an 8-1 outburst.

“We were a little bit slow in the first half,” remarked Williamson, whose GFS squad trailed 11-4 at the interlude. “We wanted to come out in the second half and work as hard as we could to get the win – to be recognized as competitors and not just some team from the Friends League. I think we showed our fire and fight in the second half.”

Germantown took the draw to begin the second half and quickly got a goal from Williamson, who drove through the right side of the arc. The future Penn Quaker saw another shot deflect off the crossbar, but the Tigers scored soon after that as Morrissey converted from a free position just two-and-a-half minutes into the new period.

After Megan McGurk broke the ice for the Irish in the second half, the Tigers responded with markers by freshman Annie Tyson and by Morrissey. They were now back within four points of the leaders, 12-8, with 16:10 left to play.

“We knew they were going to come out really strong in the second half, and they put in a couple goals pretty quickly,” said Notre Dame’s Cook. “We needed to come back and refocus on our game plan, which was making sure the double-teams were there early, taking away the strong side, and stopping their driving girls before they got up a lot of momentum.”

The Irish regrouped and, as the clock dropped from 15:37 to 11:26, they notched three goals to lead 15-8. The gap never fell below six goals the rest of the way. Bandos added a sixth goal in the second half and junior Nora McCallion finished the game with four.

“No regrets – everybody left it on the field,” Williamson said afterwards. “We worked our hardest and I’m really proud of everybody; the only sadness I’m feeling now is because I’ll miss the girls. I’m definitely glad I’m going on to play at Penn, so this isn’t the last you’ll see of me.”

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