Friends Central defender Kate Forrest (left) tries to redirect SCH freshman Natalie Schwartz during a Pa. Indy Schools tournament quarterfinal last week. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

After defeating Baldwin School in the opening round of the Pa. Independent Schools lacrosse tournament, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy ended its season with a quarterfinal loss on the road last Monday. The seventh-seeded Blue Devils succumbed to number two Friends Central, 15-8, ending their season with an overall record of 10-12.

Elsewhere in the Indy tourney quarterfinal round, the three other remaining teams from this side of the Schuylkill also fell to Main Line opponents on the same afternoon. The three seed, Germantown Friends, was tripped up by number six Agnes Irwin (15-11), fifth-seeded Germantown Academy was edged out by fourth-ranked Academy of Notre Dame (12-11), and number nine Penn Charter lost to the top seed, Inter-Ac League champion Episcopal Academy (16-9).

Episcopal emerged as the Pa. Independent Schools champ, as well, knocking off the Friends Central Phoenix, 19-11, in the finals on Thursday. The Phoenix, who had defeated GFS in the Friends Schools League finals back on May 17, ended their season with a mark of 19-3.

In last week’s quarterfinal at FC, the hosts got a handle on the opening draw, but Springside Chestnut Hill was first on the scoreboard, as sophomore Sinéad Brierley made a successful drive through the left side of the arc. Friends Central’s Emily Tedesco answered with 4:07 elapsed in the game, and the home team tacked on two more goals over the next three minutes.

After a player from each team hit a goalpost with a shot, FC added the next actual goal to make it 4-1 with a dozen minutes left in the first half. Sophomore Francesca Fabiani fired one for SCH for a 4-2 tally, and sometime later, with under five minutes to go in the period, the Phoenix still led by two, 7-5.

The game started to get away from the Blue Devils in the closing minutes of the first half. Sophomore Sophie MacFarlane scored Friends Central’s eighth goal off a feed from junior Emma Dahle with two-and-a-half minutes left. At the other end the talented goalkeeper for the Phoenix, senior Aubrey Faggen, had already turned aside shots from three of SCH’s strongest attackers, Fabiani, Duke-bound senior Kitty Morrissey, and freshman standout Mikaela Watson.

More damaging were the developments of the final minute. The Devils had possession and it appeared they would have the last shot of the half, but they committed a turnover with 36 seconds. FC’s Dahle then scored with just nine ticks on the clock for a 9-5 halftime lead.

The figure held up for more than six minutes early in the second half, then the Phoenix put in a pair. Morrissey and freshman Natalie Schwartz responded for the visitors, but they never could get closer than four points, and in the end Friends Central pulled farther away by netting the last three goals of the afternoon. PC’s Faggan and SCH freshman goalie Elsa Rall were each credited with eight saves.

SCH freshmen Watson and Schwartz finished with three and two goals, respectively, and the Blue Devils got single strikes from Brierley, Fabiani, and Morrissey. Almost half of the winners’ scoring load was carried by the Tedesco sisters, Lafayette College signee Ashley (four goals) and sophomore Emily (three). MacFarlane also had a hat trick for the winners and Dahle scored twice. Rounding out the scoring with one goal apiece were juniors Kate Forrest and Bianca Newton, and freshman Jesse Rubin.

Springside Chestnut Hill finished the 2013 campaign a little under the .500 mark, but the Blue Devils’ record included three overtime losses and a single-goal setback in regulation play.

“A lot of individual players improved and also we became better playing as a team,” pointed out first-year head coach Allison Thomas. “We had a group of seniors who fought hard and led the team well, and we also had a lot of young players step up, too.”

In addition to Morrissey, the graduating class included Shelby Jackson, Vanessa Pierce, Gianna Pownall, Maud Simms, Jackie Willitts, and Taylor Wrubel. Another senior, Jennie Lukoff, played early in the season, then left to take advantage of a special academic opportunity. Winter Chernak was the lone junior on the varsity roster this spring.
Sophomores Brierley and Fabiani were steady point producers, and five freshmen, Rall, Schwartz, Watson, Remi Fillipini, and Megan McCool were everyday players for the Blue Devils.

“A lot of our returning girls are going to be involved in club lacrosse over the summer,” Thomas noted. “There are a few who need to work on conditioning and speed, and some others who need to focus a little on their stick skills.”

Turning to the rising freshman class, the Devils’ mentor said, “I’ve heard a lot about the eighth-graders who are coming up and it seems to be a good, solid class. The varsity girls are actually going to get together with them next week for sort of a clinic to help get them started thinking about being part of the upper school program next year.”

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