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GIRLS LAX: A Family Lacrosse Affair for a Penn Charter Standout; Agnes Irwin Continues to Roll; a Future Blue Hen at Notre Dame Academy

By Marc Narducci, 05/06/24, 7:30PM EDT


Inter-Ac Notebook (5/6)

Photos: Zack Beavers, Chelby Elam, Ryan Nix & Jack Verdeur

By: Marc Narducci

A Family Lacrosse Affair at Penn Charter

Penn Charter senior attack Grace Walter comes from a lacrosse family. Her older brother Nick, a 2023 Penn Charter graduate, is a freshman attack of the Air Force Academy team.

Her sister Eva is a junior midfielder at Penn Charter and brother Jake is an eighth grader and the goalie in the family.

Her parents, Nick and Shaney Walter didn’t play lacrosse, but her father was the one who suggested his children play the sport.

Penn Charter senior Grace Walter #9 - PSD Photo by Ryan Nix

“He always loved watching the sport and he got us into it at a really young age,” she recalled. “He told us we were going to love it.”

She remembers shooting together with her older brother Nick in the backyard, both working on their skills as attackers.

The competitions continue in the backyard, with Grace shooting on her brother Jake.

Walter has become a consistent scorer on a talented Penn Charter team.

She is often deployed behind the net and frequently gets the attack started there.

“She is a super smart player,” Penn Charter coach Colleen Magarity Kelly said. “She is a true X player, looking to feed, looking to set up the attack.”

And of course, looking to score.

Walter will continue her lacrosse career and education next year at William & Mary. Unlike many area lacrosse standouts, her recruiting process took a bit longer.

While many Division I recruits make their choice often in September or October of their junior year, Walter didn’t commit to William & Mary until this past July.

Talk about stressful.

“I was definitely one of the later lacrosse commits so my recruiting process was really difficult for me,” she said.

Her persistence, not to mention her lacrosse skill, helped her greatly through the recruiting process.

“I knew since I was a little girl that playing lacrosse in college has always been one of my dreams,” she said. “Being a late recruit was really hard for me because it was hard to stay motivated, but I kept with it.”

She said she felt fortunate that William & Mary had been following her progress since the winter of her junior year.

“I am really happy to be going to William & Mary and grateful that they have given me this opportunity,” she said.

Walter says she wants to major in business and says besides lacrosse, the academics at William & Mary really appealed to her.

Penn Charter senior Grace Walter talks about her decision to attend and play lacrosse for William & Mary - PSD Video by Marc Narducci

One thing Walter will miss is playing field hockey. Unlike in lacrosse, she was a defensive player for Penn Charter’s team.

She said playing field hockey was a great experience, even though she knew her future sport would be lacrosse.

“One of the reasons I have done other sports has been for the people,” she said. “Every sport comes with great life skills and also keeping me busy.”

And when there was free time in the offseason or summer, there was always time to refine her shooting skills against her brother, or work on her passing skill with her sister.

“My parents are always banking on us to go outside and have a catch with your siblings because we’re really fortunate that we all play lacrosse,” she said.

It’s a sport the family has shared together as spectators and competitors. Their father was certainly right when he said it was a sport he thought they all would enjoy.

Penn Charter update

After suffering a 15-12 loss to Agnes Irwin, Penn Charter finished the week with three wins. First up was a 14-7 victory over Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.

Penn Charter sophomore Ana Buckley #16 - PSD Photo by Chelby Elam

Sophomore Ana Buckley scored a hat trick. Walter was among four players with two goals. The others were senior Aditi Foster (Northwestern), and sophomores Harbor Campbell and Molly Dougherty. Fellow sophomore Maeve Magarity made six saves and had three caused turnovers.

The Quakers then had a successful road trip, beating Phillips Exeter Academy of New Hampshire, 18-12 and Connecticut’s Greenwich Academy, 12-6.

Walter and Foster each scored five goals in the win over Exeter Academy, while Dougherty and junior Kenighan Mattice each scored a hat trick and Buckley scored twice.

In the win over Greenwich Academy, Foster led the way with four goals. Walter, Mattice and Dougherty each scored twice. Eighth grader Makenna Myers had four caused turnovers, three ground balls and four draw controls and Magarity made eight saves and caused two turnovers.

In the loss to Agnes Irwin, Walter and Dougherty each scored a hat trick.

Agnes Irwin continues to roll

The improvement that Agnes Irwin continues to make was demonstrated during last week’s 15-12 win over Penn Charter. That avenged a 10-6 loss to the Quakers that Agnes Irwin suffered earlier this year.

Junior Mairyn Dwyer (North Carolina) had four goals, three assists and four draw controls. Senior Elle Brady (Villanova) added four goals and one ground ball. Junior Catie Holmes (Maryland) had two goals and classmate Blair Fox (Virginia) added three goals, one ground ball and an impressive 12 draw controls. Junior Caroline Chisholm (Boston College) had two goals, three ground balls and three draw controls. Junior Emma Tayloe (Navy) caused three turnovers and had three ground balls and Maggie Dooley caused three turnovers and had two ground balls. Senior goalie Maggie Mullen (Richmond) had three saves, one caused turnover and one ground ball.

“Our team did an excellent job executing the game plan,” Agnes Irwin coach Lauren Wray said. “We moved the ball well on the offensive end which created a lot of open opportunities, and we have a really well-balanced attack this year which helps us in these games.”

Wray felt that a key was attempting to shut down Penn Charter standout Aditi Foster, who still ended up with two goals and three assists.

“Aditi has been a force for them all season,” Wray said. “Kelsey Young did an excellent job matching up with her and our defensive unit came up with some caused turnovers that gave us some great momentum in the second half.”

A date to watch is Tuesday May 14, when Agnes Irwin hosts Episcopal Academy in the final regular season game for both teams. Agnes Irwin is the lone Inter-Ac team to defeat Episcopal Academy, 11-10 in three overtimes on April 18.

Notre Dame’s O’Brien glad to be a future Blue Hen

Kylie O’Brien felt there was no reason to prolong her college decision. Now a senior defender at Notre Dame Academy, O’Brien committed to continue her education and lacrosse career at the University of Delaware in September of her junior year.

Academy of Notre Dame senior Kylie O’Brien #26 - PSD Photo by Lennie Malmgren

Sept. 18, 2022 to be precise.

“At first I was a little nervous about committing so early, but then I looked at the big picture and I realized I wasn’t going to be happier somewhere else and so I committed,” she said.

She said that Delaware offered everything she was looking for.

“I know I wanted to stay close to home and it’s less than an hour with no traffic,” she said. “The coaches are amazing, and they really stress and emphasize the family atmosphere.”

And then there was the educational component.

“I thought it was a great fit academically and just the whole vibe, the size of the school, the people there, it felt like a good fit,” she said.

According to NCAA rules, a lacrosse player can begin talking to college coaches Sept. 1 of their junior year. That is why so many youngsters commit as juniors in September or October.

“At the time I remember wondering if anything would come from the work I put,” she said. “After Sept. 1, it’s like a dream come true when you realize people actually want you on their team and it was really cool to see.”

Notre Dame Academy update

In a 13-8 loss to Inter-Ac leader Episcopal Academy, Notre Dame Academy freshman Abby Sims had a strong game by scoring a hat trick while also adding two draw controls. Cate Fox scored twice. Freshman Riley Davis added one goal, three caused turnovers, one interception and a draw control. Sophomore Keira McHugh had one goal, one assist, three caused turnovers and five draw controls. Also scoring a goal was Maeve Seeger, who also added an assist, three caused turnovers and a draw control. Sophomore goalie Morgan Kelly made seven saves.

SCH in an Inter-Ac nail-biter

In a nailbiter, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy earned an 11-10 win last week over Germantown Academy. Virginia commit Alex Reilly, who is enjoying an outstanding senior year, had five goals, two assists, five draw controls, three caused turnovers and two ground balls.

Sophomore Madigan Wallach had two goals and three assists. Senior Sarah Scollin (Gettysburg) added two goals and one assist and senior Madison Freeman (Villanova) had two goals, four draw controls and a ground ball. Sophomore Molly McCann made 14 saves.

During a 14-7 loss to Penn Charter to end the week, Scollin had three goals, two draw controls, two caused turnovers and one ground ball, while Freeman added two goals, two assists, two draw controls and one ground ball. Sophomore Kass Magarity had a goal and an assist, and eighth grader Devon Donato added the other goal.

A double hat trick for GA’s Smigiel

Senior Lucia Smigiel (UConn) led the way in Germantown Academy’s 16-3 non-league win over Gwynedd Mercy Academy with a double hat trick.

Besides scoring six goals, she also had one assist, one draw control, two ground balls and an interception. Senior Gigi Ippoldo (William & Mary) had two goals and two assists, while senior Maggie Borek (Navy) and junior Sarah Cohen also scored two goals each.

Junior Sadie Hess made five saves while Olivia Kozak added two more.

In an earlier 11-10 loss to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Smigiel had four goals, four draw controls and two ground balls, while senior Cate Luviano (Brown) added two goals, one assist, five draw controls, six ground balls and an interception in an outstanding all-around effort.

Germantown Academy senior Lucia Smigiel #21 - PSD Photo by Jack Verdeur

Two more Inter-Ac wins for EA

Episcopal Academy ended the week with an 11-1 win over Germantown Academy. Junior Quinn Whitaker (Boston College) led the balanced attack with three goals, two draw controls, three ground balls, two caused turnover and an interception. Classmate Maura Irish (Notre Dame) had three goals and one assist. The other multiple-goal scorer was senior Sydney Richter (Georgetown) who had two goals, one assist and an impressive 10 draw controls.

Earlier, EA defeated Notre Dame, 13-8 as Irish had four goals, two assists and two draw controls, and Richter had three goals, one assist and six draw controls. Junior Grace Holland (Boston College) made four saves and had three ground balls, while sophomore Sofia Gagliardi had one goal, three draw controls, three ground balls and two caused turnovers.