SPRINGFIELD, PA – It was a familiar scene all over again. For yet another year, the Cardinal O’Hara Lions faced the defending champions, the Lansdale Catholic Crusaders in the Philadelphia Catholic League girls’ tennis championship on Thursday, October 13 at the Springfield YMCA.
Lansdale Catholic wins second straight PCL title in a 3-2 victory vs. Cardinal O'Hara - PSD Photo by Dan McCarty
The familiar foes produced an even more familiar nail-biting ending. The contest was all tied up at 2-2. It came down to one last round of singles action with Lansdale Catholic senior co-captain Ella Moran facing Cardinal O’Hara senior co-captain Jordan Graney. Moran won the first set 6-3 but fell 4-7 (6-7) in a second set tiebreaker. She managed to keep her composure and register a 6-1 victory in the third set, ultimately giving her the victory at No. 2 singles and the Crusaders a narrow 3-2 championship title.
“I lost the first two games,” said Moran. “I felt like I was going to lose the rest. I realized she was getting to net a lot. I needed to stop letting her do that. I just had to go back to the basics.”
The Crusaders (13-0) defeated the Lions 3-2 to win the 2021 PCL title. Although victorious, Lansdale Catholic entered this crucial match with an added chip, attempting to prove that last year’s outcome was no fluke, while the Lions wanted to reclaim the title. In league play, Lansdale Catholic was the only team this year to deny O’Hara of an undefeated regular season.
Bringing home the trophy was especially meaningful for the Crusader’s senior captains. Bridget Keyser and Moran played key roles in helping to rebuild their four-player squad immediately following COVID-19.
“When Covid first started, we had four people on the team and Bridget and Ella were two out of that four,” said Lansdale Catholic head coach Wendy Bradshaw. “They would go to these matches being three people short. They were committed to tennis, and I just feel like I have a special bond with them.”
“This year it was special because it was a nail biter at the end there,” said Bradshaw. “Bridget and Ella are the best seniors, the best captains. I’m so happy. It’s not for myself that we won. I’m happy for them. They won their senior year.”
Keyser also led the Crusaders in the finals along with sophomore Emerson Selgrath. They came out on top, with Selgrath defeating Samma Zahran in No.1 singles 6-2, 6-3 and Keyser taking No. 3 singles 6-1, 6-1 against O’Hara’s Sophia Bora.
“We just all pump each other up, hype each other up,” said Keyser. “We play as if its 0-0. We leave no doubt. We play each point like it’s a new point.”
O’Hara entered in the championship following a 4-1 semifinal victory over Archbishop Carroll. This time, things just did not go exactly the way the team hoped. Juniors Sophia Carey and Theresa Stolarczyk triumphed at first doubles with scores of 6-3 and 6-0. Sophomores Allison Kirby and Martha Coffey prevailed at second doubles with scores of 6-1.
“In doubles, it’s really important to never blame each other because you’re dependent on your partner to get the ball over the net,” said Carey. “You have to depend on one another and make sure that we’re both confident and happy and not stressed. We do a really good job.”
The season is not over yet. Lansdale Catholic and Cardinal O’Hara will represent the Philadelphia Catholic League and compete in the District 12 tournament on Thursday, October 20 at the Legacy Tennis Center. The Crusaders (2A) will face Masterman at Noon. In the meantime, Bradshaw’s team has plans to practice by playing their favorite game, ‘alternate.’
“We’ll play our favorite game in practice called alternate,” said Bradshaw. “We’ll have a lot of fun. We’ll hit really hard. We’ll work really hard, but they always have a lot of fun when they are working really hard.”
In nonleague action, the Lions host Germantown Academy on October 18 as the team prepares for districts. O’Hara will then play Central at 1:30 p.m. for the District 12 3A title.
“We’ll have a couple of practices,” said O'Hara head coach Patty Fitzgerald. “We have a match on Tuesday, a nonleague match that should put us in the right mind for districts. We’ll just keep practicing.”