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Hail to Two Teams, An Impressive Start by Episcopal Academy, A Goalie from SCH Learning on the Job; Penn Charter Impresses

GIRLS LAX: Braving the Elements, Teams in the Inter-Ac Kick Off League Play With Offensive Power

By Marc Narducci Photos: Lennie Malmgren, Zamani Feelings & Ryan Nix, 04/15/24, 11:15AM EDT


Hail to Two Teams, An Impressive Start by Episcopal Academy, A Goalie from SCH Learning on the Job; Penn Charter Impresses

Inter-Ac Girls LAX Notebook (4/15)

Photos/Videos: Zamani Feelings, Lennie Malmgren, Marc Narducci & Ryan Nix

By: Marc Narducci

The early Inter-Ac girls’ lacrosse season has seen Episcopal Academy taking care of business as usual. Two teams played one game in the craziest of conditions, at least for a quarter. Penn Charter has looked impressive and there is a sophomore at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy who has adapted well to the always difficult position in goal.

These stories and more kick off our opening Inter-Ac girls’ lacrosse notebook.

Hail to Episcopal Academy and Academy of Notre Dame

It was the first week of April, where the weather is often unpredictable, but nobody on Episcopal Academy or the Academy of Notre Dame could have forecast playing in what amounted to an ice storm.

The clouds began getting darker shortly after the 3:30 p.m. game at Notre Dame began. Early in the first quarter, it started to hail, and it came down steadily for much of the opening period.

Imagine playing lacrosse and having somebody throwing ice at your face up and down the field. That is what this was like. The hail was huge and of course, mighty cold.

Episcopal Academy won the game 18-3, but both teams deserve a boatload of credit for playing in such unfavorable conditions.

“It was crazy, I’ve never seen that before or played in it,” EA junior Quinn Whitaker said. “It definitely took all of us a second just because it started off with a rain drop and then it was hard hail.”

Players from both teams did what many elite athletes would do – they adjusted to the conditions.

“We were able to take a second and refocus and know both teams are playing in this condition, and we had to play our way,” said Whitaker, a Boston College commit.

The elements were even more difficult for players who wore short sleeves, such as Episcopal Academy junior Maura Irish, a Notre Dame commit, who scored seven goals in the game.

Hail Game Highlights Episcopal Academy vs. Notre Dame by Marc Narducci

Quinn Whitaker and Maura Irish of EA talk about playing in the viral hail storm on April 4th - PSD Video by Marc Narducci

“I was freezing,” Irish said.

She then tried to downplay the elements.

“It was fine,” Irish added. “My arms were a little bit red from the hail, but it was fine.”

Even something that is taken for granted like seeing the ball, was difficult.

“It was definitely hard to see, and I had a problem with a couple of balls at some point, but we got used to it,” Irish said.

Notre Dame senior Kylie O’Brien, a Delaware commit, said the key was getting adjusted to the hail as soon as possible, no easy task.

“I thought it was just going to be a little bit (of hail) or rain and it started to hurt, so that threw us off,” she said. “I feel in weather like that, both teams are playing in it, and you can’t let it slow you down or anything.”

So both teams kept playing at full speed, while the hail kept falling just as rapidly.

“For about 30 seconds you couldn’t see, but after that it was fine,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said that this was the worst weather conditions she has played in since ironically, a game last year against the same Episcopal Academy team.

“Last year against Episcopal Academy, it was pouring rain from start to finish and that is the only thing I can compare it to,” O’Brien said.

The one difference is that after that first quarter, the hail stopped, and before halftime the sun was out shining.

The teams had survived conditions that players from both teams will never forget.

Episcopal Academy vs. Notre Dame - PSD Game Highlights Part 2 by Lennie Malmgren

EA at its best

Episcopal Academy has won the last three Inter-Ac championships, and the Churchwomen are showing no signs of slowing down. They opened this season 13-0 and 4-0 in the Inter-Ac. The closest Inter-Ac game was a 12-6 win over a talented Penn Charter team.

Junior midfielder Avery Le, a Penn commit, led the way with four goals. Sofia Gagliardi, junior Kate Dente (a Princeton commit), and Whitaker each scored twice. Abby Schwartz added two ground balls, two caused turnovers and an interception.

In a 15-4 win over Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Whitaker led the way with four goals, six draw controls, five ground balls and five caused turnovers.

The closest game to date for EA was a 7-6 win over perennial Maryland power McDonough, which was played at Cabrini.

The score was 3-3 at halftime.

Le scored the game-winning goal. To show the balance, seven different players had one goal. The other goal scorers were Pitt commit Lainey McGonagle, Georgetown commit Sydney Richter, Dente, Irish, Whitaker and Sofia Gagliardi. Junior Boston College commit Grace Holland had three saves and Fallon Crowther had two.

Of all the impressive attributes of EA, the most might be the team’s balance.

“In many games we have had seven different goal scorers, which is cool,” EA coach Josie Tomaino said. “That is where our strength comes from, we don’t have one or two kids who are going to take over, we expect everybody to step up and do their job.”

In another close non-league game, EA earned a 6-4 victory over St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes of Virginia. That was another game where there were six different goal scorers. Gagliardi scored the game-tying goal while Le had the game-winner. The other goal scorers were McGonagle, Richter, Dente, Irish and Whitaker. Caitlin McCarthy had three ground balls three caused turnovers and an interception.

EA to compete in PAISAA

Episcopal Academy hasn’t been a participant in the recent Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) state tournaments, but that will change this year.

Tomaino said her team will compete this year in a tournament that the Inter-Ac has dominated in recent years.

An Inter-Ac team has won eight straight PAISAA titles, with Agnes Irwin beating Penn Charter, 7-6 in last year’s championship.

Episcopal Academy last won a PAISAA state championship in 2016.

Dwyer stars for Agnes Irwin

In a 12-9 loss last week to the Academy of Notre Dame, Agnes Irwin junior midfielder Mairyn Dwyer had four goals, three draw controls and one caused turnover.

Dwyer is a University of North Carolina commit. Junior midfielder Catie Holmes, a Maryland commit, contributed two goals. Senior goalie Maggie Mullen, a Richmond commit, added four saves, while senior attack Ella Sprinter (Johns Hopkins) contributed three assists.

During a 10-6 Inter-Ac loss to Penn Charter, Dwyer again was impressive with three goals, three ground balls and three draw controls.

Agnes Irwin earned a 19-1 non-league win over the Hill School, with senior Villanova commit Elle Brady leading the way with four goals.

Agnes Irwin junior Mairyn Dwyer #3 - PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings

Surging Penn Charter

Penn Charter lost its first Inter-Ac game to Episcopal Academy, 12-6 on March 21, but since then the Quakers have won four straight Inter-Ac games.

Even in the loss to EA, there were some positives.

Penn Charter senior Aditi Foster, who has committed to defending national champion Northwestern, said there were some positives in defeat.

“We were up 2-1 at the end of the first quarter and then they opened up the lead, but it finished 12-6 and we didn’t give up,” Foster said. “I think we definitely have improved since then.”

Since then, there was a 16-15 OT win over the Academy of Notre Dame, a 10-6 triumph over Agnes Irwin, a 14-2 victory at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Saturday’s 12-2 win over Germantown Academy.

Foster had four goals in the win over SCH, while William & Mary commit Grace Walter added a hat trick. Sophomore Ana Buckley had two goals, three ground balls and one caused turnover.

In the win over GA, Foster had five goals. Walter and sophomore Harbor Campbell each scored a hat trick, while sophomore Molly Dougherty had four draw controls, one assist and one ground ball and classmate Maeve Magarity made six saves in goal.

SCH goalie adapting well to a new position

It might sound crazy in a game that a team lost by 12 goals, that the goalie was superb, but that was clearly the case for Springside Chestnut Hill Academy sophomore Molly McCann during a 14-2 loss to Penn Charter.

This game was competitive through the first two quarters, with Penn Charter leading 4-1 at halftime, before the Quakers put things away during the third quarter.

It was McCann who kept SCH in the game during the first half, making one big save after another. For the game she made 17 saves.

“She stood on her head for us,” said SCH coach Noelle Cebron-Powell. “She played out of her mind.”

Not bad for somebody who is new to the position.

McCann had never played the position, but SCH was looking for a goalie and Cebron-Powell was impressed with the sophomore’s athleticism.

“We’re really excited with her progress,” Cebron-Powell said. “She is only going to get better.”

More on SCH

Earlier SCH earned its first Inter-Ac victory with an 11-10 win over Germantown Academy. Alex Reilly – a Virginia commit and among the best players in the area and beyond, led the way with five goals, two assists, six draw controls, two caused turnovers and two ground balls.

Springside Chestnut Hill vs. Penn Charter - PSD Game Highlights by Marc Narducci

Fellow senior Madison Freeman, a Villanova commit, had three goals, two draw controls and a ground ball. Also noteworthy was the play of senior Maddy Caliendo, who had five ground balls, while senior Gettysburg commit Sarah Scollin added two goals, three assists, one draw control, one caused turnover and one ground ball.

SCH has played well for long stretches, but sometimes depth catches up with the Blue Devils. That was the case in a 15-4 loss to Episcopal Academy.

SCH trailed just 4-3 at halftime.

Reilly led the way with three goals, six draw controls and the two ground balls, giving her 200 for her career.

Germantown Academy update

Germantown Academy, with a young team, is still looking for its first Inter-Ac win, but the Patriots had a close call in an 11-10 loss to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.

UConn commit Lucia Smigiel led the Patriots against SCH with four goals, three draw controls and two ground balls. Navy commit Maggie Borek had two goals. Cate Luviano added one goal, one assist, six draw controls, seven ground balls and two caused turnovers. Sadie Hess made 12 saves.

The most exciting win came in GA’s 12-11 OT triumph over Lawrenceville. Smigiel had five goals, one assist and four draw controls. Borek added three goals, three draw controls and six ground balls. Brown commit Cate Luviano added two goals, three draw controls and three ground balls.

William & Mary commit Gigi Ippoldo had two goals, including the game-winner on an assist from Smigiel. Hess made 17 saves.