Photos/Videos: Marc Narducci, Lennie Malmgren
By: Marc Narducci
The outright Inter-Ac lacrosse championship was clinched the previous game, an 11-4 victory over Agnes Irwin, but Episcopal Academy was laser-focused for its final regular season game.
The Churchwomen were attempting to go undefeated in the Inter-Ac, no small feat in one of the top lacrosse leagues in the area.
In winning the Inter-Ac title last year, EA went 11-1, losing only to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 13-12.
This time, Episcopal Academy was intent on keeping that goose egg in the Inter-Ac loss column.
So even though EA beat Germantown Academy, 20-7 in the first meeting, the Churchwomen approached this game as if everything was on the line.
Episcopal Academy scored the first eight goals of the game and never looked back in a 14-5 win at Germantown Academy.
That gave Episcopal Academy a 10-0 Inter-Ac record. The outcome was a fitting end to the season.
“It’s a special accomplishment to go undefeated in the league because we have so many strong teams,” EA coach Josie Tomaino said. “I think it’s tough to do and we had a really special group this year and that’s what made it happen.”
One fact that can’t be comforting to future EA opponents is that this team will return so many talented players from the current sophomore and junior classes.
For instance, the leading goal scorers in this season finale were sophomore Quinn Whitaker, who scored five goals and classmate Maura Irish scored a hat trick, as did junior Grace McHugh.
Junior Lainey McGonagle, a Pitt recruit, and classmate Jenna Morley (Colorado), are standouts whether in the midfield or on D.
Sydney Richter (Georgetown), who had four draw controls, is a junior. Kate Dente, who contributed a goal and three caused turnovers, is a sophomore. Classmate Avery Le had one assist, two draw controls and two ground balls. Sophomore Brynn Kehl had one ground ball and one caused turnover.
Goalie Grace Holland, who made eight saves, is a sophomore.
Episcopal Academy has just one senior attack, although replacing Lex Ventresca will be a major task. Ventresca, who had two goals in her final game, is among the best players not only in the Inter-Ac, but the entire Delaware Valley. A dynamic player, she is a Northwestern commit.
“It feels amazing,” Ventresca said when talking about going 10-0 in league play. “Our slogan for the year is ‘not done yet’ and after our game on Friday, as exciting as that was to win the Inter-Ac, we knew today would be such a big game because we wanted to go 10-0 and just prove to everyone how strong we are together.”
Ventresca said that EA’s difficult non-league schedule prepared the Churchwomen for the Inter-Ac.
Included were powers from four different states (besides Pennsylvania), plus the District of Columbia. There was also a 13-1 win against Hill Academy of Canada.
While Ventresca is excited about her future, she is sad to see her high school career end. Opposing defenses, however, won’t be shedding many tears to see her depart.
“I wish we could have another game now,” she said. “The coaches have been the best and the other girls are even better, and it’s been the best four years.”
This senior class lost their freshman year due to COVID. Episcopal Academy was 7-5 in the Inter-Ac when the current seniors were sophomores, but 21-1 over the past two years.
Episcopal Academy has just five seniors, but four of them play on defense – Franny Gallagher, who will continue her education and lacrosse career at Colby, Molly Delaney (William & Mary), Alexa Cohen and Sabrina Burnetta.
This was a difficult D to score against and what helped was having to face the Episcopal Academy offense every day in practice, and vice versa.
“We challenge each other and do this fun game and we play best of five, seven-on-seven and whoever loses has to run three one hundreds,” said Gallagher, a two-year starter. “It’s great because we challenge each other.”
One could only imagine how spirited those matchups are.
Like Ventresca, Gallagher will greatly miss competing for Episcopal Academy.
“It’s been such a great experience, developing as an athlete and also as a person,” she said. “Getting to play against these kids made every practice super competitive and then we also got to play against some of the other best teams in the area, even in the country. So, I think it is an experience that is unmatched.”
And for the second straight Inter-Ac season, a team that was unmatched as well.
Last week’s win over Agnes Irwin, shows how much Episcopal Academy has improved over the course of the season. In the first meeting, EA beat Agnes Irwin, 5-4.
During Friday’s win, Ventresca and Whitaker each scored a hat trick. Irish had two goals and Richter had five draw controls. Holland made four saves.
Episcopal Academy 10-0, 16-3
Agnes Irwin 7-3, 13-3
Penn Charter 5-5, 13-9
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy 5-5, 10-8-1
Germantown Academy 3-7, 12-8
Notre Dame 0-10, 2-15
The Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) state tournament will begin later this week and the Inter-Ac schools should have a major presence.
While Episcopal Academy won’t be entering the tournament, another Inter-Ac team, Penn Charter, will be looking to defend its title.
The Quakers defeated Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 8-7 in last year’s championship game.
Penn Charter head coach Colleen Magarity Kelly - PSD Photo by Lennie Malmgren
“It’s a huge deal and I love it because you are competing for a championship,” Penn Charter coach Colleen Magarity Kelly said of the PAISAA tournament. “I would love to have an Inter-Ac tournament before PAISAA.
The boys conduct an Inter-Ac tournament, with the top four teams competing, but the boys’ teams don’t compete in PAISAA.
The PAISAA first round is Thursday and one Inter-Ac team, Notre Dame, will have a first-round game.
The Irish will meet Barrack Hebrew Academy In the opener.
Of the other Inter-Ac teams, Agnes Irwin is the top seed, Penn Charter is No. 2, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy is No. 3 and Germantown Academy is No. 4. All have first round byes and will begin action on Friday May 19,. The semifinals will be played Tuesday, May 23. The championship is 4 p.m. on Thursday May 25 at Cabrini.
Agnes Irwin clinched second place in the Inter-Ac with Tuesday’s 11-6 win over Penn Charter. The winning Owls outscored Penn Charter 5-0 in the second half.
Sophomores Blair Fox and Catie Holmes each scored a hat trick. Fox also had six ground balls and four draw controls. Classmate Caroline Chisholm had one goal, three ground balls and three draw controls. Yet another sophomore Mairyn Dwyer, contributed one goal, one assist, two caused turnovers, five ground ball s and five draw controls. The other goal scorer was junior Molly Chorin. Junior Maggie Mullen (Richmond) made five saves.
When Penn Charter beat Germantown Academy, 9-8 on Friday, it was the fifth time this season the Quakers have had that final score. Penn Charter is 2-3 in 9-8 games.
Both of this year’s games between Penn Charter and Germantown Academy were 9-8, with each team winning once.
The most recent Penn Charter 9-8 win was tied 5-5 at halftime.
Junior Grace Walter led the Quakers with a hat trick. Senior Alex Glomb, a Penn commit, had two goals, one assist and three ground balls. Junior Aditi Foster had two goals, three assists and three draw controls. Senior Gracie Shoup (Ohio State) added one goal, two assists, two draw control and two ground balls. The other goal scorer was Ava Diaz, while senior goalie Kayla Joyce (Davidson) made 14 saves.
Penn Charter junior Grace Walter #9 - PSD Photo by Lennie Malmgren
The Quakers closed their regular season with an 11-5 loss to Agnes Irwin. Walter had two goals, while Molly Dougherty, Shoup and Foster were the other goal scorers. Joyce made 17 saves.
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy senior Emma Bradbury enjoyed last summer after kicking things off by making a verbal commitment to attend Michigan. She made the choice on June 23.
“It meant so much, not having to worry about things my senior year,” Bradbury said after a recent game against Penn Charter. “There hasn’t been as much pressure since I made the decision.”
She liked everything about the Big 10 school.
“It’s a great school and that was my No. 1 priority,” she said. “I loved it and absolutely fell in love with it when I was there.”
Even the weather, which could get downright chilly, didn’t bother Bradbury.
“I even liked the cold when I was there, which kind of told me a lot,” she said.
Bradbury isn’t exactly going to have an easy major – it will be neuroscience.
When asked if she plans to enter the medical field, Bradbury responded, “I am not sure yet, I kind of think I want to be a little bit more behind the scenes, doing research, but I am sure I will have to go to more school, either way.”
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy senior Emma Bradbury #11 - PSD Photo by Lennie Malmgren
As her career is winding down, she is attempting to enjoy every single moment.
“I have been trying to have more fun at practice and I tell the underclassmen to enjoy it while they have it,” she said.
Bradbury scored her 200th career goal with one second left in the first half of Tuesday’s 14-6 win over perennial South Jersey power Haddonfield. She now has 203 career goals.
Bradbury ended the game with five goals, one assist and five draw controls. Junior Madison Freeman scored a hat trick and classmate Sarah Scollin added two goals and three assists.
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy senior Emma Bradbury scored her 200th career goal in win over Haddonfield - Photo courtesy of @SCHBlueDevils
In the aforementioned 9-8 loss to Penn Charter, Germantown Academy received all-around games from senior Mia Raven, junior Emma Goodwin and sophomore Sydney Wanner.
Germantown Academy senior Mia Raven #25 - PSD Photo by Geanine Jamison
Raven, a Trinity College commit, had two goals, three draw controls, four ground balls and one caused turnovers. Goodwin (Dartmouth) had a goal and an assist along with four draw controls and three ground balls. Wanner provided one goal, three assists, four draw controls and four ground balls.
Junior Lucia Smigiel (UConn) had two goals. Also scoring were juniors Cate Luviano and Maggie Borek (US Naval Academy).
Sophomore Sadie Hess had 11 saves.
In the regular season finale against Episcopal Academy, Goodwin had two goals and Raven, Sarah Marvin and Borek each scored once.