Archbishop Carroll captures 22nd consecutive PCL Girls Lacrosse Title in a 20-3 victory over Cardinal O'Hara - PSD Photo by Zack Beavers
Photos/Videos: Zack Beavers & Jeremy Goode
By: Jeremy Goode
ASTON, PA - It’s getting difficult to cover games played by the Archbishop Carroll Patriots lacrosse team.
Not because of their play; you could watch Chloe Bleckley draw fouls as she slithers through the opponent’s defense. Or Machaela Henry scoring multiple times with ease in front of the net. Or the entire Carroll defense swarming the opponent’s ball carrier, making it impossible to hang onto possession and eventually forcing turnovers to the Patriots.
It’s the same story over and over again for Carroll. Now, maybe there are new faces here and there, but ultimately, the story ends the same way at the conclusion of the season:
Carroll starting the game with a commanding lead? Check. Carroll scoring a lot of goals in 50 minutes of regulation? Check. Carroll locking down on defense? Check. Carroll winning the Philadelphia Catholic League Championship?
Check. On May 19, Carroll defeated Cardinal O’Hara 20-3 in the PCL championship for girl’s lacrosse at Neumann University. The championship marks the 22nd straight PCL championship for Carroll.
“We work a lot; we work hard,” said head coach Lorraine Beers. “These girls are all serious about their lacrosse; they play club, they play other club sports, so they’re an elite athlete to begin with. And then my coaches and myself, all we have to do is teach the lacrosse game to those guys, and anybody who is that high level at anything, it comes pretty quickly to them.”
Quickly indeed. Out of the 20 games Carroll played during the 2023 season, they won 19 of them. In conference play, they went undefeated.
After jumping out to five goal lead less than six minutes into the contest on goals by Brooke Hippert, Lainey Straub, and Henry, O’Hara responded four minutes later with a goal of their own. Henry immediately answered on the next possession with a goal, followed by another goal by O’Hara to make it 6-2 in favor of Carroll.
Carroll would hit the gas for the remaining 12 minutes of the first half, using their depth in strong goal scorers to score the next six goals and going into halftime with a commanding lead up 12-2.
“I think we have a really talented 12, so if one is not open, we find another one, if they’re not open then we just keep finding everyone,” Henry said. “Everyone is so good that there are always options for us to find.”
Many teams find themselves challenged when up big at the halfway point of a championship game. They tighten up, make mistakes, and the score becomes closer. Not with Carroll. Whatever Beers communicated at halftime seemed to have worked, as the Patriots would only give up one goal in the second half, and outscored the Lions 8-1 in the final 25 minutes of regulation.
Beers noted that while the Patriots do not take anything for granted, the depth and senior leadership allows the roster to be on the attack for 50 minutes.
“We wanted to close it out,” Beers said. “I’ll be very honest, this particular game we like to make sure the seniors are on the field and the girls who have played and won all those games need to be out there.”
Henry added, “We know O’Hara is good and we know that they can easily come back in. So, we just wanted to keep pushing it so that they could never come back in.”
This marked the Patriots' 22nd straight PCL championship - PSD Photo by Zack Beavers
For Carroll, the PCL is a challenge every year. None of the Patriots teams want to let down the previous championship rosters, as five-time goal scorer against O’Hara, Ava Bleckley, noted.
It becomes a competition. Yes, against the other schools they face off against – but also with previous Carroll rosters, dating back to 2001.
“It is just important thinking about the other teams of Carroll, the legacy, and just continuing it,” Ava Bleckley said.
While Carroll was able to slow the game down in the second half, the stat line of O’Hara goals does not tell the full story of the defensive lockdown Carroll forced. The Lions were able to net their only goal of the half down 20-2, with three minutes left, concluding a statistical 22-minute shutout by Carroll.
Beers was proud of all efforts at every position from the Patriots. Of course, in sports (other than golf), especially in a championship game, you’re happy even if your team only had one more point. 20 goals? Nice. Only giving up three goals of your own, according to Beers, will draw a huge smile.
“That I liked,” Beers said. “Our defense this year is ridiculously good. Sienna [Golden] and Jayanna [Ramsey-Williams]; they’ve just been so solid and the midfielders work so hard to come back… we haven’t given up more than nine goals the whole year. It’s a great defense and I love that.”
There were a lot of stats to go around for the Patriots team, not surprising when the unit scored 20 goals.
Chloe Bleckley had two goals and two assists. Henry finished with five goals and an assist. Hippert scored two goals, while Staub had three of her own. Ava Bleckley recorded four goals and two assists, while Catie McConaghy, Sam Hewitt, and Claire Sexton combined for four goals and three assists. Goaltender Bridget Robinson would also save five shots for the Patriots.
“They’re a fantastic team, obviously they are well coached. Carroll does all the basics well, including draws and groundballs,” head coach of Cardinal O’Hara Jen Armstrong said. “And in lacrosse, draws and groundballs make the difference in every game, and they dominated on the draw circle.”
Championships are not given, even though it may appear that way to some who watch Carroll girl’s lacrosse every May. A lot of effort and preparation is required for these Patriot teams to be able to hoist the PCL trophy every year.
“I feel like it starts at practice,” Ava Bleckley said. “We run at practice, we challenge each other, and you know just pushing each other… it pays off.”
Carroll will turn their focus to the state championships on June 6, where they will compete in the opening round of the PIAA 2A Championships.