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GIRLS LAX: Germantown Friends Finishes Regular Season Undefeated in Friends League with Win Against George School

By Jeremy Goode, 05/05/24, 1:15AM EDT




PHILA.- The Germantown Friends School Tigers lacrosse team completed its undefeated regular season in the Friends League, defeating the George School Cougars 18-7 on Tuesday, April 30. The Tigers fed off of a strong second quarter, which proved to be the difference as they outscored the Cougars 6-0. Emmie Day and Claire Rigdon helped lead the Tigers, combining for half of GFS’ goals.

“I was really happy with the way my teammates were able to get me the ball,” Day said. “It’s a team effort so props to them.”

The Tigers, now (7-0) in the Friends League and earning the one-seed in the Friends League playoffs, were challenged early. After scoring the first two goals, the Cougars (5-2) cut the lead in half with a goal five minutes in. 

GFS Free Position Goal

The Tigers would trade off goals with the Cougars, and both teams found themselves tied at four after the Cougars scored on a free position with 44 seconds left in the quarter. Day would score 27 seconds later, giving the Tigers a 5-4 edge after the first 12 minutes. 

The defense played at a somewhat furious pace. “This is a team that really wants to share the ball, so I think early in the game you have those jitters,” GFS head coach Katie Bergstrom Mark said. 

One of the leaders of the Tigers defense, Riya Mainigi, agreed with her coach’s assessment of how the backline started out. 

“I think we were playing a little frantic in the first quarter,” Mainigi said. “But we reset and really locked it down. Our middies were definitely a huge part of that because they were really working to get back.” 

The Tigers certainly shook off the jitters after the first quarter and erupted with six goals in the second quarter, while blanking the Cougars to lead 11-4 at halftime. 

Even with the Tigers’ relatively loose start on defense, their one goal advantage they were able to secure at the end of the first quarter gave them the confidence to play solid GFS lacrosse for the next 12 minutes. 

They certainly adjusted. 

“They’re always finding that next pass which can be really difficult to defend,” Bergstrom Mark said. “I think it started out of our defensive end; we had a lot of great caused turnovers coming out of the defense, and then get that one more pass and get a higher percentage shot on goal.”

The second half would see the Cougars get on the board first, scoring less than three minutes into the third quarter and cutting the Tigers’ lead to six. 

Unbothered, the Tigers would rally to score four unanswered goals to close out the quarter, giving themselves a 15-5 advantage heading into the final frame while holding the Cougars to that lone goal early after the long intermission. 

“We just wanted to keep our run going,” Day said. “Move the ball a lot… move it quickly… and also just keep cheering for each other for the small things; the ground balls, the turnovers.”

While the Tigers kept the pressure on offensively, it was the defense that took over throughout the game. Little would both teams expect that the Cougars would only manage three goals for the rest of the game, after averaging a goal every three minutes in the first quarter. 

In total, eight different Tigers would score a goal, a common theme for all of their games and a big part of Bergstrom Mark’s offense. While Day and Rigdon took charge offensively, Olivia Lutey would contribute a hat trick and Halle Smoger, Ally McNally, Maddie Daniel, Naomi Shaffer, and Sarah Goldberg would all add a goal apiece. 

Offensively, the Tigers have been well endowed all season, and it is easy to understand how they were able to overcome everyone else in the Friends League. 

The well-oiled machine that makes up the Tigers’ forwards and midfielders rubs off on the defense in its own way, according to Mainigi. 

“They are such a strong unit; we have so many scorers that there is never just one girl who is scoring every time,” Mainigi. “They all work to assist; no one tries to rack up 12 goals. They feed a lot and cut for each other a ton.” 

Emmi Day Goal

While an 18-goal outburst is not a rare storyline in such an offensive-minded sport, the Tigers held the Cougars to less than two goals per quarter, compared to their own nearly five. 

Similarly, the Tigers’ lead goal scorer, Day, credited the strong defensive effort that GFS brought against George School. Day acknowledged how imperative it has been to have an experienced back line. 

“All of our defense are upper classmen; juniors and seniors,” Day said. “They’re just a force to be reckoned with; they are all really great and all play as a team.” 

Besides the defense, goalkeeper Isla Moger held strong in front of goal for GFS. Only seven shots got past Moger, and the senior goalkeeper defended and saved several shots fired by a strong Cougars’ offense.

“Iyla has a ton of experience and we have a ton of confidence in her,” Bergstrom Mark said. “We know that if we are going to force an off-angled shot, she is going to save it. So, that’s really our goal; get Iyla a good, clear view of the ball, and she’ll come up with the save.”

The closeness in score after the first quarter did not surprise the Tigers, knowing they were not going to just be handed the game. Rather, they would have to take it upon themselves to play their winning style of lacrosse. 

“They have a lot of great players,” Bergstrom Mark said. “They have some really good outside shooters and we just have to be ready for that… ready to extend for the block instead of thinking that they are going to come all the way in. Defensively, we worked out our communication.”

Goldberg, Day, Rigdon, and Daniel would each add an assist in the win to go along with their goals. 

With the win, the Tigers head into the Friends League playoffs as the number one seed. They will face Academy of the New Church in the semifinals this week.  

For a team that certainly could get complacent after torching its league competition, the Tigers have the mindset to take one game at a time and not relax even after a historic season. For them, the job is not done yet. 

“Whoever that opponent is we are taking really seriously; we are not jumping to the second game,” Bergstrom Mark said. “We’re going to concentrate on chasing the ball out of bounds and batting down balls, ground balls, and draws. The goals will come.”