Photos/Videos: Kathy Leister & Marc Narducci
By: Marc Narducci
WEST CHESTER, PA -- The hunger has never left Machaela Henry. Not after she has played a major role in three straight Philadelphia Catholic League titles and two straight PIAA state championships.
The Archbishop Carroll senior midfielder seems to thirst for more after each and every lacrosse accomplishment.
Now Henry and several of her classmates will get to end their high school career in the best possible manner – competing for a state championship.
Archbishop Carroll (22-1) will face Twin Valley in the PIAA 2-A state championship, 10 a.m. Saturday at Penn State.
The Patriots advanced with a workmanlike 20-5 state semifinal win over Mount St. Joseph Academy at West Chester Henderson.
After the score was tied 3-3 by Mount St. Joseph’s Maggie Rezza with 14:59 left in the first half, Archbishop Carroll put things in overdrive, scoring 15 of the next 16 goals.
This kind of spurt isn’t unusual for Archbishop Carroll. In fact, it is more like the norm for a program that has won 22 consecutive Catholic League championships.
The Patriots didn’t become unraveled when the game was close.
Why should they?
They have won so many games, a majority by convincing margins. So there is always a belief that when the team is not leading a game, that the situation will only be temporary.
“We don’t get rattled,” Henry said.
Part of that may be from the fact that Carroll faces such stringent competition in practice.
“We practice as hard as we can so we’re ready for games like this,” she said.
Henry added that Patriots treat every practice as if they are facing the hardest team they ever played.
Then again, there is a lot of truth to that. Facing her teammates in practice, is often more difficult than any opponent Archbishop Carroll will meet up with during an actual game.
It may be difficult to find somebody who has practiced harder than Henry, a third-year starter, and an Xavier commit.
“Machaela is really driven right now,” Archbishop Carroll coach Lorraine Beers said. “For about the last 30 days since the PCL (playoffs) she is just locked in and made the decision on her own to up her game.”
That is not an easy task, because her game was already up in the stratosphere. It continued in the state semifinal, when she scored three goals and had seven draw controls.
Junior Chloe Bleckley led Carroll with four goals, but the most impressive stat is that nine players scored at least one goal. That’s the type of balance that has carried the Patriots.
With all the talk about Henry’s offense, it’s the other side of the ball where she has really stood out.
“She is also an amazing defender,” Beers said.
Still, Henry has done plenty of heavy lifting on offense.
She enters the state final with 38 goals and 21 assists. Even more impressively, there have been 78 draw controls.
Henry says she and her teammates take no opponent lightly and that’s a good thing because Twin Valley (21-6) appears ready to provide a formidable challenge.
Last year these two teams met in the state final and Carroll won 10-8. Even though the Patriots have been steamrolling through opponents during this year’s state tournament, they understand how difficult it was to win last year’s title over Twin Valley.
Take 10 laps just for thinking that is a possibility.
As for Henry, there isn’t much that she doesn’t do on the field and no doubt there will be plenty of emotion as she suits up for her final high school game.
Henry also realizes how fortunate she is to have that last game in a championship setting. Yet when the game starts, nostalgia will take a back seat.
Maybe by around noon on Saturday, that will change, and she can finally look back on her career and all she and her teammates have accomplished. That’s a lot to look at, but for now, that will have to wait.
Taking the old one game at a time approach may seem boring, but the results suggest that it has worked pretty well for Archbishop Carroll, especially when championships are at stake.