BY: JOSH ABRAMS
Springfield, PA - The PCL Championship round is a situation and spot in the season that has become a consistent theme for the Cardinal O’Hara Lions.
But before this past Thursday, October 12th, the year 2019 was the last instance where ‘COH’ got the job done. The Lions reached this stage the past two seasons, but fell just short in both of the final matches against Lansdale Catholic by scores of 3-2.
This time around, they used a clean sweep of the Archbishop Carroll Patriots, 5-0, to secure the 2023 PCL Title, marking their fifth such achievement in the last eight seasons and 26th in program history. While it was very familiar territory for O’Hara, the result certainly made the girls feel much more comfortable as the matches progressed.
“I think we were definitely very, very hungry for the win,” said junior Martha Coffey. “Definitely nervous, but we were ready to play.”
That hunger and desire to win comes from a group of tennis players who still have yet to concede a match this year, and not only are the wins coming smoothly for the Lions; they’re happening in commanding fashion.
Even for someone like senior Sophia Bora – who faced the most adversity of any Female Lion by overcoming a 4-1 game deficit in her first set against Carroll sophomore Annette Engle – feeling and eventually overcoming nervousness was all a part of the process.
“Nervous, but excited,” expressed Sophia. “I feel like in the beginning of my match I was nervous, so most of my shots weren’t falling. Then I just locked in and changed my mindset to be more positive, which helped out a lot. I think that’s what really changed the game for me.”
The shift in thinking helped change the complexion of the rest of the match, as she rallied to take the first set, 7-5, and then smoothly secured the second set by a score of 6-2.
Cardinal O'Hara Athletic Director Chrissie Doogan holds plaque celebrating PCL Championship with team. (photo/ Josh Abrams for PSD)
Theresa Stolarczyk and Sophia Carey rounded out the senior trio of single match representatives for O’Hara. Stolarczyk recorded 6-0 and 6-2 wins over Carroll sophomore Macie Schundler in the No. 1 singles contest, while Carey registered 6-1 and 6-0 victories against junior Therese Laphen.
In doubles action, juniors Allison Kirby and Coffey led the first position and defeated Carroll’s Evie Karoly and Grace Klenn by scores of 6-4 in the first set and 6-1 in the second. In the second position, it was sophomores Kayla Stewart and Busayo Lawal who emerged victorious over Patriot freshman Julia DiCarlo and sophomore Sabrina O’Connor, 7-5 and 6-1.
It might have looked easy on Thursday for the Lions. But Bora will be the first to admit just how difficult tennis can be, and what needs to be understood in order to persevere in such a mentally tough sport.
“Tennis is such a mindset sport,” Bora said. “Once you start the negative route, it goes downhill from there. So you really have to just stay positive.”
PCL action may come to a halt, for now, but that does not mean the teams’ seasons are over. Cardinal O’Hara takes on Central HS in the District XII 3A Championship, while Archbishop Carroll faces Masterman in the 2A Finals. Both contests take place this Thursday, October 19th at the Legacy Tennis Center in Philadelphia, and will begin at around 1:30 PM.
Cardinal O'Hara head coach Patty Fitzgerald (far left) in celebratory photo with team after winning PCL Championship Title (Photo by Josh Abrams)